Maersk Line increased freight volumes by 10.6 percent and saw average deployed fleet capacity decrease by 0.8 percent in the quarter, raising its vessel usage and realizing a 13 percent drop in unit costs. Freight rates slid 12.2 percent, however.
“Maersk Line continues industry leadership on profitability, however Q4 has started with low freight rates which are expected to affect the fourth quarter result,” said Maersk group CEO Nils S. Andersen in an official release.
The group delivered a profit of $1.2 billion in the third quarter, up against earnings of $934 million a year ago. Increased profit was achieved across all businesses except Maersk Oil and Damco. Improvements were seen in particular in Maersk Line, APM Terminals, and Maersk Drilling.
Combined revenue in the quarter decreased by $81 million to $14.562 billion from a year ago, impacted by lower average container freight rates and lower oil entitlement production partly offset by higher container volumes.
The Denmark-based shipping and oil company revised upward its expected earnings for 2013 to around $3.5 billion from the previous $3.3 billion. In 2012, group profits amounted to $4 billion.
For Maersk Line, results for 2013 are projected to be “significantly above” the 2012 figure of $461 million, based on the strong result for the first nine months of $1.2 billion.
But the fourth quarter is anticipated to have a weak performance. “Whereas Q3 2013 had satisfactory returns, freight rates deteriorated significantly during the quarter and hence the seasonally low Q4 2013 has started with low freight rates which will result in a significantly lower fourth quarter result than third quarter,” said Maersk.