EVIDENCE of a strong first quarter recovery in container trade revenues and profits continues to emerge with Korea’s HMM turning in encouraging figures.

The carrier’s revenue increased 12% to KRW 2,330 billion (US$1.7 billion) in Q1 2024 from KRW 2,082 billion in Q1 2023, while net profit climbed 63% to KRW 485 billion in Q1 2024 from KRW 298 billion in Q1 2023.

The operating profit rose 33% to KRW 407 billion in Q1 2024 from KRW 306 billion in Q1 2023.

In releasing its results HMM noted that the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) in Q1 2024 was 2,010 points, more than doubled from 969 points in Q1 2023, increasing revenue and profits.

“Despite market uncertainties, the combined operating margin reached 17.5%, marking a surplus for the last 16 consecutive quarters,” the company said.

HMM said main economic indicators are currently favourable due to consistent consumer demand, including the recovery of the US economy, growth in online business from China, and the easing of inflation.

“HMM makes great efforts to strengthen its business capability by reinforcing its environmental competitiveness and establishing digitalization.

“In addition, HMM intends to prepare for rapidly shifting market conditions through cost-cutting and lucrative operations,” it said. 

Negotiations for the sale of the Korea Development Bank and Korea Ocean Business Corporation’s combined (government-owned) 57.9% stake in HMM to poultry group Harim collapsed in February this year, reportedly due to the sellers wanting to retain management rights.

HMM has since committed to renewed business expansion, including by ordering tonnage as THE Alliance members seek to cover gaps arising from Hapag-Lloyd’s departure to join Maersk Line in Gemini at the beginning of 2025.