COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk on Tuesday said record-high freight rates boosted quarterly earnings despite lower container volumes due to congestion at ports.
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a shortage of container ships and logjams at ports at a time of high consumer spending, pushing the cost of transporting freight to record levels.
Maersk said its main Ocean business is now expected to grow by an amount below that of global container demand, which is seen at 7-9% in 2021 versus previous guidance of 6-8%.
It also said it will buy freight-forwarder Senator International, whose largest business is within air freight, along with two Boeing aircraft for an enterprise value of around $644 million.
Maersk’s ongoing transformation from a container shipping giant into an integrated logistics company has accelerated following its strong performance during the pandemic.
It said final third-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) tripled to $6.9 billion compared with a preliminary figure of close to $7 billion issued on Sept. 16, when the company also lifted its 2021 forecasts.
It also said it would extend its existing share buy-back programme by an additional $5 billion over the years 2024 and 2025.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, Editing by Louise Heavens, Kirsten Donovan)