P&O Nedlloyd posts US$39m loss
WONG JOON SAN
Anglo-Dutch container line P&O Nedlloyd has reported US$39 million losses in the first quarter of this year, blaming the imbalance in some Asian trade and cost of extra slots under new alliance arrangements.
The carrier had reported $58 million losses in the previous corresponding period.
P&O Nedlloyd said first-quarter results could have been worse. Cost savings had been achieved through its membership of the new Grand Alliance, resulting in a slightly improved overall result.
The company reported average revenue per teu (20 ft equivalent unit) of $1,417 in the first quarter, down 6.09 per cent compared with average revenue of $1,509 per teu a year earlier, but up slightly compared with average revenue of $1,397 per teu in the fourth quarter of last year.
First-quarter results were affected by season factors and the cargo mix, it said.
The leading refrigerated container flow was from the southern hemisphere in the first half of the year and they also fetched higher average rates.
P&O Nedlloyd said that while it was difficult to comment on rate development because there was considerable upward and downward movement on different trades, the situation overall was stable.
It said container throughput on all trades rose slightly to 546,900 teu in the first quarter, up from 541,500 teu a year earlier. It handled 207,500 teu on its Europe-Asia service, up from 205,600 teu in the first quarter of last year.
Westbound liftings increased by about 15 per cent while eastbound was down a similar percentage.
The company said the trade imbalance cost it about $10 million.
It handled 207,600 teu on the north-south and cross trades, and 131,800 teu in the North American trade.
P&O Nedlloyd also said throughput remained broadly constant and the period under review was the company's weakest quarter - following on from Christmas and the Lunar New Year holidays.
The small increase in volume occurred mainly in the trans-Pacific trade.
Cargo volumes exported out of Asia were strong and rate increases were coming through in the second quarter, it said.
Imports to Asia were weak, however, and there were some rate reductions in the first quarter.
The company said that in the second quarter, it would be able to fully exploit the increased number of slots it had taken in the Grand Alliance.
The supply and demand situation was expected to improve by the end of the year or early next year.
The Asian financial crisis had curbed market-share aspirations of some operators who expanded too fast in the past 10 years, P&O Nedlloyd said.
Further significant cost savings were being made in the medium term.
The Blue Star acquisition was completed on April 1, but was not included in the first-quarter results.
Dutch transport group Koninklijke Nedlloyd says it and partners DanTransport Holding of Denmark and Saima Avandero of Italy will take a 41 per cent joint stake in France's Dubois Group.
Each of the three companies would take an equal share, Nedlloyd said without disclosing financial details of the transaction. Dubois is the French partner in the firms' international network.
'This agreement strengthens the bilateral relationships between Dubois and its partners,' Nedlloyd said, adding that the deal was an important step towards an intended further stabilisation of its European networks. REUTERS