HAPAG-Lloyd announced its unaudited operating results for 2018, revealing that its year was an improvement on the previous year.
The container liner said its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to €1.138bn (2017: €1.055bn). Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to €443m (2017: €411m).
Both figures are at the upper end of the ranges forecast for the 2018 full financial year which Hapag-Lloyd announced on 29 June 2018.
Hapag-Lloyd reported the main drivers were higher global transport volumes, steadily improving freight rates in the second half of the year, the merger with United Arab Shipping Company (UASC), and the resulting cost synergies.
For the fourth quarter of 2018, the EBITDA of €324m (Q4 2017: €332m) and the EBIT of €142m (Q4 2017: €143m) were nearly at their prior-year levels.
Revenues increased in the 2018 financial year by 15%, to €11.5bn (2017: €10.0bn), in particular due to the merger with UASC and the associated 21% increase in transport volume, to 11.9m TEU (2017: 9.8m TEU).
Transport expenses were primarily driven by strong volume growth and a significantly higher average bunker consumption price of US$421 per tonne (2017: US$318 per tonne), increasing by 18%, to €9.4bn (2017: €8.0bn), proportionally less than transport volume.
At US$1,044 per TEU, the average freight rate for the year as a whole was below the prior-year level (2017: US$1,060 per TEU), with a better fourth quarter at US$1,079 per TEU (Q4/17: US$1,038 per TEU).
On a pro forma basis and when compared to the combined business of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC for the full year 2017, the transport volume is up 6% and the average freight rate is up 2%.
All results are preliminary. The consolidated financial statements and the 2018 Annual Report will be published on 22 March 2019. According to the Alphaliner Top 100 list, Hapag-Lloyd is the fifth-largest container liner in the world, with a TEU capacity of 1.7m TEU, a 7.3% of world-wide capacity. The liner has a total of 235 ships owned and under charter.