The world’s third biggest container shipping line said “cost discipline in response to persistently difficult market conditions” helped to reduce costs per 20-foot-equivalent unit (TEU) by 5.3 percent and deliver an operating margin of 4.8 percent, one of the industry’s highest.
Volumes carried rose by 7.5 percent to 11.4 million TEUs over the year, above market volume growth of around 3 percent.
Consolidated revenue slid by 0.1 percent to US$15.9 billion last year, and net profit rose by 22.8 percent to $408 million, partly as a result of the sale of 49 percent of its share of the subsidiary Terminal Link in June.
“In 2013, in a difficult market, we successfully reduced our costs while increasing our volumes carried much faster than the market, enabling us to report one of the industry’s best financial performances,” said Rodolphe Saadé, group chief executive officer.
He expects rates, despite an initial upturn at the beginning of the year, to remain under pressure throughout 2014 “given the persistent mismatch between supply and demand.”
Overall container shipping volumes are expected to increase by 4 percent to 5 percent in 2014, the company said.
It added that special focus will be placed on fast-growing regions, like Africa, where new services will be launched and port infrastructure developed. It will also continue to revamp its information systems in partnership with SAP.
Meanwhile, a CMA CGM general rate increase will be imposed on the Asia-West Africa trade lane effective May 1. The rate hike is US$250 per TEU and coverage will include Japan, Southeast Asia, and Bangladesh in the Far East.