The parent company of OOCL provided an early peek at what the end of 2013 might have looked like for the container industry as it released an unaudited fourth quarter operational update on Friday.
OOCL carried 1,395,794 TEU in the fourth quarter of 2013, up 10 percent from the same period last year, a strong finish to a year in which it moved 5,293,537 TEU — a much more modest 1.5-percent increase over 2012.
The picture was not as positive for revenue, however.
OOCL's total revenue was $1.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2013, down 1.6 percent from the same period in the fourth quarter of 2012. Still, that was better than the revenue picture for the year as a whole. OOCL said 2013 revenue was $5.6 billion, down 4.9 percent from 2012.
OOCL is generally one of the best performing carriers in the container business. It had an operating profit in five of the six years between 2007 and 2012, losing money only in 2009, when all the major container carriers did. Last year, in American Shipper
's annual "Who's making money" survey
, it ranked as having the second highest cumulative operating profit from 2007 to 2012 among the 15 top container carriers.
OOCL’s fourth-quarter volumes in 2013 were boosted by a strong 15.7-percent increase in its intra-Asia and Australasia business, where it moved 767,880 TEU. Volumes in other trades during the fourth quarter were up more modestly — transpacific, up 5.8 percent to 312,404 TEU; Asia-Europe, up 1.7 percent to 220,429 TEU; transatlantic, up 2 percent to 95,081 TEU.
All those trades were stronger than they were for the full year. In 2013, OOCL’s volumes compared to 2012 were down 1.6 percent on the transpacific to 1,233,131 TEU; down 4.7 percent on the Asia-Europe lane to 843,652; down 3.2 percent on the transatlantic to 394,842 TEU; up 5.6 percent in the intra-Asia/Australasia trade to 2,821,912 TEU.
Revenue for OOCL’s major trade lanes was as follows:
- Intra-Asia/Australasia trade: Up 2 percent, year over year, to $530.7 million in the
fourth quarter of 2013; down 2.1 percent in 2013 to $2.05 billion
compared to 2012. (While the intra-Asia/Australasia
trade produces more than half the container volume for OOCL, the
relatively shorter trips common in the trade mean it produces a lower
share of revenue.)
- Transpacific: Down 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter to $467 million; down 3.4 percent to $1.92 billion for the year.
- Asia/Europe: Down 6.7 percent to $253 million in the fourth quarter; down 11.4 percent to $1.03 billion for the year.
- Transatlantic: Down 1.6 percent to $150 million in the fourth quarter; down 6.8 percent to $615.5 million for the year.