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“There are not many indications that the situation is really improving,” Rolf Habin Jansen, chief executive of Reuters news agency, told Reuters on Friday. The situation is expected to calm down somewhat after the Chinese New Year celebrations in early February. However, it will likely not be an entirely ordinary year. He pointed to the epidemic, whose end is not yet looming. Only when the restrictions imposed to control the epidemic can be relaxed can we talk about relaxation. “So you have to expect a slight improvement in the situation during 2022.”
Transportation bottlenecks have kept shipping companies, ports, and customers of needed goods on hold for months. Ships were disrupted in front of some ports in China because the stations had to temporarily shut down. There have also been delays elsewhere. Container ships were delayed in some cases for several weeks. Empty containers became rare because they could not be moved to where they were needed in time.
“The problem with the boxes is now behind us,” said Habin Jansen. Many new containers have been built so that the ports and shipping companies are now well supplied. Basically there are enough ships. However, at the moment, stocks around the world are still very low. “This means there is still a lot to catch up.” It also assumes that many companies have increased their inventories compared to the time before the pandemic. “It will take a long time to get back to normal.” Hapag-Lloyd is trying to contribute to easing the situation through targeted investments and flexible capacity management.
Earn more than ten times
Like other container shipping companies, Hapag-Lloyd is benefiting from high demand. Due to the scarcity of transportation capabilities, prices rise significantly. The average freight rate for moving a standard container jumped by two-thirds to more than $1,800 in the first nine months. With a slight increase in transport volumes at the same time, this ensured a more than tenfold increase in net profit compared to the same period in the previous year to around 5.6 billion euros. The world’s fifth largest container shipping company raised its forecast for the year at the end of October after a jump in profits. Operating profit is now expected in the range of 8.7 to 9.5 billion euros. For comparison: in 2020, EBIT was 1.3 billion euros. Given the expected earnings, Hapag-Lloyd gives shareholders hope for generous returns: “If you’ve had such an extraordinary year, you should expect a very reasonable dividend,” Habben Jansen said. The board has not yet considered a proposal for the supervisory board.
Happen Jansen welcomed the progress of negotiations on cooperation between the northern German ports: “It is good that they work better together, because then you can use all the strengths of the northern German ports.” He saw the cartel issues as less important. It is not about the competition between Hamburg and Bremen, but between the northern German ports and rivals Antwerp and Rotterdam. Hamburg port logistics group HHLA and its Bremen rival Eurogate announced on Thursday that talks on an alliance were still on the way. Eurojet said a basic guiding decision to advance negotiations by the end of 2021 is realistic.
Hapag-Lloyd stock posted a loss of 3.35% to €213.40 on occasion on XETRA.
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Image sources: Hapag-Lloyd
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