With strong performances in ocean freight and logistics, Swiss forwarder Panalpina started the year on a positive note, reporting a consolidated profit of CHF14 million (US$14.9 million) for the first quarter of 2013, up from a loss of CHF41 million in the first quarter of 2012.
Net forwarding revenue in the first quarter was up by 4 percent to CHF1.6 billion, while gross profit amounted to CHF366 million, an increase of 0.5 percent.
Ocean freight volumes reached a new first quarter record level as Panalpina shipped 7 percent more TEUs (20-foot-equivalent units) than the year before. Although gross profit per TEU was 4 percent lower, it was more than offset by the higher volumes for an increase in gross profit of 2 percent to CHF117 million.
For airfreight, overall volumes were down by 3 percent in the first quarter, with gross profit per ton decreasing by 5 percent year-on-year. Gross profit contracted 8 percent to CHF147 million compared to the previous year.
The logistics division grew 13 percent and reached a gross profit of CHF102 million.
“Our results for the first quarter of 2013 are in line with what we could expect in a continuously difficult market,” said CEO Monika Ribar. “Ocean freight and logistics continued to grow strongly while air freight volumes were still soft.”
On a regional basis, strong trade in the Americas led to gross profit of CHF113 million in the first quarter, up 5 percent from last year. But gross profit in the Asia-Pacific fell by 8 percent to CHF72 million on weak European exports. The EMEA region saw a slight increase of gross profit by 2 percent to CHF181 million. Europe recorded strong exports in ocean freight but weak overall imports, particularly from Asia.
EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was CHF30 million in the first quarter of 2013, a decrease of 11 percent compared to the prior year. The EBITDA-to-gross profit margin decreased to 8.2 percent from 9.3 percent in the previous year.
Ribar said they intend to strike a “more balanced mix” among the three services, even as she confirmed a continued weak outlook for airfreight.