LIKE most of its container line compatriots Maersk Line has reported a substantial turnaround in fortunes towards the end of 2023, although meeting guidance for the full year.

The group’s stellar 2022 result of a US$29 billion net profit fell in post-COVID 2023 to $3.9 billion, with Q4 emphasising the reversal of fortunes. Maersk’s container division actually recorded an operational loss of $920 million October-December, contributing to a group loss of $442 million.

“While volumes were up across most products and strong cost control helped improve results, rates continued to erode, particularly in Ocean. Revenue for 2023 was US$51.1 billion with an EBIT margin of 7.7% impacted by declining freight rates,” the company said.

The Liner Division recorded an 11% growth in Q4 liftings to 6.2 million TEU but this was more than countered by a fall of 50% in average rate per TEU to $962.

Maersk’s Logistics & Services division was also hit by the higher volumes/lower rates scenario, with EBIT down 57% on the previous year, at $60 million. But Terminals grew total volume by 3.2% to 3,168,000 TEU and revenue increased 2%.

Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc said 2023 was a transitional year following the extraordinary market boom caused by the pandemic.

“We secured solid financial results despite significantly changed circumstances, and we are well positioned to manage the expected headwinds in 2024,” Mr Clerc said.

“By taking early and decisive measures to enforce strict cost management, we adapted to the new reality. We need to see further progress in the logistics business to align with our targets, as we continue to push our transformation forward and enhance our competitiveness.

“The current market remains one of robust volumes, but while the Red Sea crisis has caused immediate capacity constraints and a temporary increase in rates, eventually the oversupply in shipping capacity will lead to price pressure and impact our results.

“The ongoing disruptions and market volatility emphasize the need for supply chain resilience, further confirming that Maersk’s path toward integrated logistics is the right choice for our customers to effectively manage these challenges,” Mr Clerc said.

Maersk also announced the separation of Svitzer, its global towage division.