Maersk Line implemented rate increases on most trades and adjusted capacity through slow steaming, scrappings, idling, and blanked sailings last year. Average freight rates for the year were 1.9 percent higher at $2,881 per 40-foot-equivalent unit from $2,828 per FFE in 2011.
Volumes in 2012 also increased, up by 5 percent to 8.5 million FFEs from 8.1 million FFEs in the previous year. Bunker consumption per FFE was reduced by 11 percent, and staff numbers at the headquarters were “reduced significantly.”
The positive performance of the world’s biggest box carrier in 2012 helped to boost the profit of parent company A.P. Moller-Maersk, which earned $4 billion last year from $3.4 billion in 2011. Its earnings were slightly higher than the expected $3.7 billion forecast last November.
“We are satisfied with our result for the year. After a difficult start, Maersk Line improved its performance and the Group achieved a result above last year’s, both in terms of net result and in underlying performance,” said A.P. Moller-Maersk CEO Nils Andersen in a statement.
But the Copenhagen-based company was cautious about the outlook for 2013, forecasting modest expansion in global shipping demand of 4 to 5 percent. It added that the outlook was bleak for the Asia-Europe trade and that traffic growth would come from the U.S. trades and in emerging markets in Africa and Latin America.
It also said freight rates might fall this year if no significant capacity cuts would be implemented.