German firm lifts profit 20pc in year

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 May, 2002, 12:00am

German shipping and logistics conglomerate Hapag Lloyd Group battled record low market conditions last year to boost comparative net profit 20 per cent to 230 million euros (about HK$1.6 billion).

Subsidiaries Hapag Lloyd Container Line and Hapag Lloyd Cruises contributed 61 per cent of the group's 3.9 billion euro turnover, representing an 8 per cent year-on-year rise in overall sales.

At an operating level, the container division moved 8 per cent more volume year on year, to 1.7 million teu (20 ft equivalent units), elevating profit 17 per cent to 186 million euros despite weaker demand and a significant declines in freight rates.

Liner division chief executive Gunther Casjens said: 'We achieved another productivity increase thanks to the refinement of our information technology systems. We also benefited from the joint management and use of ship capacities with the Grand Alliance.'

He said the company gained from a strong United States dollar. The dollar exchange rate grew about 7.8 per cent year on year.

In Asia, the German carrier saw export volumes rise 12 per cent year on year to about 696,000 teu, with eastbound transpacific and intra-Asia trades showing the strongest growth.

Operating profit from its logistics division grew more than 11 per cent last year to 95 million euros on the back of a 7 per cent rise in turnover, which topped 1.5 billion euros.

Group chairman Michael Behrendt said volume moved by the container division would continue to grow faster than the market on average, although declining rates might mean a drop in earnings.

Mr Behrendt said: 'We are exclusively in the markets with long-term growth prospects and hold leading positions in these areas. Our results in 2002 will be well down on 2001 owing to the weak economy, which is recovering slowly.'