Hapag-Lloyd had improved results in the third quarter, but the German liner carrier said in the current quarter transport demand is being reduced by the debt crisis in Europe.
The carrier said it had an after-tax profit of 45.6 million euros ($57.9 million) in the third quarter, compared to 9.6 million euros for the same 2011 period.
Revenue was 1.765 billion euros in the quarter, 15 percent more than in the third quarter of 2011.
"Hapag-Lloyd was able to increase freight rates, revenue and results in the third quarter, although the market environment remains challenging. The average freight rate rose year on year by 8 percent to $1,647 per TEU," the company said. "The rate increases initiated by Hapag-Lloyd in the first quarter and implemented in the second quarter had a tangible effect here."
Transport volume in the third quarter amounted to 1.28 million TEUs.
“Given the intense competition and gloomier economic prospects this is a good result. Unfortunately, given the absence of the peak season, we were not able to continue the upward trend in freight rates in the third quarter,” said Michael Behrendt, chairman of Hapag-Lloyd's executive board.
The carrier said it has invested 692.5 million euros in ships and containers in the first nine months of 2012. After the delivery of two new vessels in the third quarter, Hapag-Lloyd’s order book now comprises eight ships of 13,200 TEUs each, of which one is due for delivery in November.
The company said "the fourth quarter will be dominated by the intensifying effects of the debt crisis in the eurozone. Liquidity constraints and declining consumer demand mean that retailers and manufacturers are not filling their warehouses but instead reducing their inventories. This noticeably reduces demand for transport services in these markets, especially in southern European countries.
"Despite the burden from high energy prices and the increasingly gloomy economic outlook, Hapag-Lloyd is striving to achieve a positive operating result again for the current financial year, provided that there is no fundamental escalation of the risks in the fourth quarter," the carrier added. - Chris Dupin