On Wednesday the company said, A surge in demand for goods like furniture and exercise equipment from locked-down consumers has sparked a jump in shipping rates, boosting profits for Danish freight giant Maersk.
Still shares in the world’s largest container shipping line fell as much as 8% as it missed analysts’ lofty forecasts for the end of last year and gave more cautious guidance for 2021 than expected. Maersk’s ocean shipping business, “performed at record level in the quarter as a consequence of the strong rebound of demand,” CEO Soren Skou said in a statement. Helped by record high freight rates and low fuel prices, fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) leapt 85% to $2.71 billion from a year earlier. However, that was below the $3.06 billion forecast by analysts in a poll gathered by the company.
Skou said, “Our continued progress makes us confident that we will continue to grow the earnings of the company as the economic situation normalizes in 2021 and beyond.” Maersk expects global container trade to rise 3-5% in 2021 after declining 2% last year. The majority of consumer goods are ferried by container ship operators like Maersk. Container ships have been sailing at full load since August – something that has not happened in a decade. Maersk expects EBITDA of $8.5 billion-$10.5 billion this year, in comparison with the $10.3 billion expected by analysts and $8.3 billion achieved last year.