HHLA benefits from strong increase in container transport by rail

Despite the continued influence of the coronavirus pandemic and a resulting imbalance in global transport flows, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) recorded positive business development in the first half-year of 2021. The Group operating result (EBIT) increased by 63.2 percent year-on-year to € 90.5 million. The positive business development was partially attributable to high storage fees as a result of continued shipping delays at the Port of Hamburg as well as a strong increase in container transport volumes. While container transport recorded strong growth of 16.0 percent, container throughput increased slightly by 0.7 percent compared with the same period last year. The Real Estate subgroup achieved slight growth in revenue and significant increase in earnings. In total, Group revenue increased by 12.8 percent to € 709.2 million.

Angela Titzrath, Chairwoman of HHLA’s Executive Board: “Global supply chains have been disturbed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic as well as singular events such as the recent one in the Suez Canal. This has resulted in massive shipping delays to which we terminal operators must adapt. However, we are conscious of our responsibility for the steady supply for consumers and companies in Germany and Europe. We are therefore undertaking great efforts to ensure reliable handling at our facilities and fast onward transport of containers. The fact that we once again achieved a positive operating result in the first half-year of 2021 despite challenging conditions is an expression of the strength of HHLA and of its ability to successfully adapt to current challenges.”

Port Logistics subgroup: performance January to June 2021

The listed Port Logistics subgroup recorded a strong 13.2 percent increase in revenue to € 695.1 million in the first six months (previous year: € 614.2 million). The operating result (EBIT) increased by 70.4 percent to € 83.8 million as compared with the previous year, which was strongly affected by the pandemic (previous year: € 49.1 million). The EBIT margin improved by 4.0 percentage points to 12.0 percent.

In the Container segment, the throughput volume at HHLA’s container terminals increased slightly by 0.7 percent to 3,369 thousand standard containers (TEU) (previous year: 3,345 thousand TEU). At the three Hamburg container terminals, the throughput volume of 3,073 thousand TEU was up 0.5 percent on the same period last year (previous year: 3,058 thousand TEU). This was due in particular to the moderate increase in cargo volumes for Far East services, which offset pandemic-related volume shortfalls in the previous year and the loss of a Far East service in May 2020. On the other hand, there was a moderate decline in feeder traffic, particularly in the Baltic region. The international container terminals in Odessa and Tallinn recorded an increase in throughput volume of 3.4 percent to 296 thousand TEU (previous year: 286 thousand TEU). Only RoRo ships – and no container ships – were processed at the Trieste container terminal during the first six months of 2021.

Revenue increased year-on-year in the first half of 2021 by 11.4 percent to € 404.9 million (previous year: € 363.4 million). The slight increase in volume of 0.7 percent was strongly exceeded by the increase in revenue quality. Average revenue per container handled at the quayside rose by 10.6 percent year-on-year. This was due to an advantageous modal split with a high proportion of hinterland volumes and a temporary increase in storage fees as a result of ongoing ship delays. In addition to the pandemic-related delays in ship arrivals, the blocking of the Suez Canal in March also led to longer dwell times that led to an increase in storage revenue. Against this backdrop, the operating result (EBIT) increased by 72.1 percent to € 63.4 million (previous year: € 36.8 million). The EBIT margin increased by 5.5 percentage points to the more normal level of 15.6 percent.

In the Intermodal segment, container transport increased strongly by 16.0 percent to 832 thousand TEU (previous year: 718 thousand TEU). It was primarily rail transport that continued to benefit from the recovery in freight volumes beginning in the second half of 2020. Rail transport increased by a remarkable 19.3 percent year-on-year to 678 thousand TEU (previous year: 568 thousand TEU). The increase was even more significant in the second quarter compared with the previous year’s pandemic-related weak quarter. The growth in volume during the first half of the year was widely diversified. In a persistently challenging market environment, road transport increased moderately by 3.4 percent to 155 thousand TEU (previous year: 149 thousand TEU).

At € 252.9 million, revenue was up by 13.3 percent on the prior-year figure (previous year: € 223.2 million). However, this increase failed to match the development in transport volumes. Despite the advantageous increase in the rail share of HHLA’s total intermodal transportation from 79.2 percent to 81.4 percent, average revenue per TEU decreased as a result of changes to the structure of freight flows. In light of the positive trend in volume and revenue, the operating result (EBIT) increased by 33.4 percent to € 46.0 million in the reporting period (previous year: € 34.5 million).

Forecast for 2021 partially raised

The economic development of HHLA in the first half of 2021 was largely in line with expectations. However, expectations for container transport and revenue for the Port Logistics subgroup and the Group have been raised.

For the Port Logistics subgroup, a moderate year-on-year increase in container throughput is expected, as well as a significant increase in container transport (previously: moderate increase). In view of the positive development in the first half of 2021, a significant increase in revenue is now expected for the year as a whole (previously: moderate increase). EBIT for the Port Logistics subgroup is still expected to be within the range of € 140 million to € 165 million.

A slight year-on-year increase in revenue is still considered possible for the Real Estate subgroup with an operating result (EBIT) on a par with the previous year.

At Group level, HHLA now expects a significant increase in revenue (previously: moderate increase), while an operating result (EBIT) in the range of € 153 million to € 178 million is still anticipated.

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