Hapag-Lloyd has disclosed its 2018 annual report today. Based on the audited figures, the group net result increased to EUR 46 million for the year 2018 and was EUR 13 million higher compared to the previous year (2017: EUR 33 million). Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to EUR 1,138 million (2017: EUR 1,055 million). Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) went up to EUR 443 million (2017: EUR 411 million). Both, EBITDA and EBIT, are at the upper end of the ranges forecast for the 2018 full financial year (EBITDA: EUR 900 to 1,150 million; EBIT: EUR 200 to 450 million).
“The market environment in 2018 was certainly not easy: In the first half of the year, freight rates were below our expectations and bunker prices and costs increased during the year. In the second half of the year, however, these effects were partially offset as we benefitted from higher global transport volumes, better freight rates and improvements on the cost side. All in all, we are satisfied with the financial results for 2018”, said Rolf Habben Jansen, Chief Executive Officer of Hapag-Lloyd.
Revenues increased by 15 % in 2018 to EUR 11.5 billion (2017: EUR 10.0 billion), in particular due to the merger with UASC and the associated 21 % increase in transport volume, to 11.9 million TEU (2017: 9.8 million TEU). Transport expenses were primarily driven by strong volume growth and a significantly higher average bunker consumption price of 421 USD/tonne (2017: 318 USD/tonne), increasing by 18 %, to EUR 9.4 billion (2017: EUR 8.0 billion), proportionally less than transport volume. At 1,044 USD/TEU, the average freight rate for the year as a whole was below the prior-year level (2017: 1,060 USD/TEU), with a better fourth quarter at 1,079 USD/TEU (Q4/17: 1,038 USD/TEU). On a pro forma basis and when compared to the combined business of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC for the full year 2017, the transport volume is up 6 % and the average freight rate is up 2 %.
As of 31 December 2018, Hapag-Lloyd had EUR 6.3 billion (2017: EUR 6.1 billion) in equity and a liquidity reserve (cash, cash equivalents and unused credit facilities) of EUR 1.1 billion (2017: EUR 1.1 billion). Net debt amounted to EUR 5.4 billion (2017: EUR 5.7 billion) at the balance sheet reporting date.
Rolf Habben Jansen: “While our business is and will remain cyclical, market conditions have gradually improved for liner shipping companies over the last few years. Our course for the next few years is set and our objectives for 2019 are clear: Improve earnings, further reduce our debt and continue to implement our Strategy 2023 – all aimed at creating more value for our customers and for our shareholders as we strive to become number one for quality.”
Based on the positive business development, the executive board and the supervisory board of Hapag-Lloyd AG have decided to propose to the Annual General Meeting the payment of a dividend of around EUR 26 million, equivalent to 15 cents per share, for the business year 2018.
In its most recent economic outlook for the year 2019, the IMF expects a global economic growth of 3.5 % and global trade volume to increase by 4.0 %. Hapag-Lloyd is anticipating a rise in the transport volume in 2019 in line with the general growth of the market. Additionally assuming a lower increase in global transport capacity compared to 2018, Hapag-Lloyd’s average freight rate in 2019 is likely to increase slightly compared with the previous year. Hapag-Lloyd is also expecting the average bunker consumption price in 2019 to be moderately higher compared to the previous year.
Provided that Hapag-Lloyd achieves the expected freight rate, the anticipated improvement in revenue quality combined with the cost savings as part of Strategy 2023, and the expected growth in volumes, it is forecasting an EBITDA in the range of EUR 1.6 to 2.0 billion and an EBIT in the range of EUR 0.5 to 0.9 billion. Accounted for here is the currently expected impact on EBITDA in the range of EUR 370 to 470 million as well as EBIT in the range of EUR 10 to 50 million related to the implementation of the reporting standard IFRS 16.