Container lines record combined EBIT loss of US$1.44 billion in 2023 Q4 : Sea-Intelligence

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COPENHAGEN : Following Sea-Intelligence‘s previous announcement on 21 March, which provided insights into the fiscal year 2023 results, the data analysis firm now delves into the operating profit specifically for the fourth quarter of the last year.

During the fourth quarter of 2023, the shipping lines collectively reported a combined EBIT loss of US$1.44 billion. Among the major players, Maersk recorded a loss of US$920 million, followed by Hapag-Lloyd (US$252 million), ONE (US$248 million), Yang Ming (US$ 109 million), ZIM (US$54 million), and Wan Hai (US$41 million).

Comparing these figures across the same set of shipping lines (excluding ONE due to limited historical data), and incorporating Evergreen and HMM, both of which achieved operating profits in 2023-Q4, this quarter marked the highest combined EBIT loss from 2012 to 2023. The previous record was in 2015-Q4, with a loss of US$455 million.

To analyze profitability per TEU shipped, Figure 1 illustrates the EBIT/TEU trends from 2010 to 2023, highlighting the unprecedented levels observed during the 2021-2022 pandemic period. Figure 2 focuses on the developments in 2023, cutting off the y-axis at +/- 300 USD/TEU for clarity.

“So far, we have EBIT/TEU data for 5 shipping lines, with COSCO missing from those that regularly report on both their EBIT and global volumes. Maersk’s EBIT/TEU of -148 USD/TEU is their largest negative EBIT/TEU in the analysed period,” pointed out Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence.

“For Hapag-Lloyd, their EBIT/TEU loss of -84 USD/TEU is smaller than their only other negative EBIT/TEU of -239 USD/TEU in 2014-Q4. For ONE, their negative 2023-Q4 EBIT/TEU of -80 USD/TEU is their first. HMM, on the other hand, recorded a positive EBIT/TEU of 34 USD/TEU in 2023-Q4,” explained Murphy.

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