A DECREASE in container volumes in the order of 20-25% is likely in the second quarter of the 2020 calendar year, A.P. Møller – Mærsk chief executive Søren Skou says.

The shipping giant has just released its results for the first quarter of 2020, with an encouraging increase in earnings by 23% year-on-year.

“The strong results were made during a quarter with sharp fuel costs increases derived from the industry’s switch to low-sulphur fuel and on the backdrop of a contraction in global trade due to lockdowns in most regions,” Mr Skou said.

But the outlook is less bullish.

Maersk CEO Søren Skou discusses business trends with Bloomberg

“We continue to support our customers in keeping their supply chains running, however as global demand continues to be significantly affected, we expect volumes in Q2 to decrease across all businesses, possibly by as much as 20-25%,” Mr Skou said.

“2020 is a challenging year, but as we proactively respond to lower demands and show progress in our transformation and financial performance, we are strongly positioned to weather the storm.”

He said the transformation of A.P. Moller – Maersk from a diversified conglomerate to becoming a focused, integrated and digitized global logistics company continued to be validated.

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“We are serving our customers, connecting and digitizing their supply chains, while also growing earnings and free cash flow in difficult circumstances,” Mr Skou concluded.

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