Hapag-Lloyd's Q1 bunker consumption jumps 37% post UASC merger, records $34.3m loss

Shipper says 18.8% bunker price rise 'had a negative impact on earnings'.

Hapag-Lloyd containers on board the Antwerpen Express. Image credit: Hapag-Lloyd

Updated on 14 May 2018 07:47 GMT

Hapag-Lloyd confirmed on Monday that it consumed 1.1 million tonnes of bunker fuel during the first quarter (Q1) of 2018, representing an increase of 297,000 tonnes, or 37.0 percent, on the 803,000-tonne figure recorded during the prior-year period before the merger with United Arab Shipping Company (UASC).

Approximately 12 percent of marine fuel used comprised a low proportion of sulphur in the form of low-sulphur marine fuel oil (MFO) or marine diesel oil (MDO), Hapag-Lloyd said.

In Q1 2017, before the merger, around 16 percent of bunkers consumed were recorded as being low in sulphur content.

On a per-transported-TEU basis, bunker consumption was 0.38 tonnes per TEU, compared to 0.42 tonnes per TEU in Q1 2017 without UASC.

The average price paid for bunkers by Hapag-Lloyd in Q1 was $372 per tonne, which was a year-on-year (YoY) rise of $59, or 18.8 percent, on the $313-per-tonne figure posted in Q1 2017.

Key results

In its key figures for Q1, Hapag-Lloyd posted a group loss of EUR 34.3 million, which was a $23.8m improvement on the corresponding period in 2017.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was up EUR 84.1m, or 62.2 percent, to EUR 219.4m, whilst earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) jumped EUR 46.2m to EUR 53.7m.

Revenue grew EUR 484.6m, or 22.7 percent, to EUR 2,616.7m.

Transport expenses increased YoY by EUR 368.5m, or 20.6 percent, to EUR 2,153.6m. Hapag-Lloyd said this was due to the UASC acquisition and the subsequent growth in transport volume as well as higher bunker prices.

In an analysis of the main reasons for the earnings result, Hapag-Lloyd observed: "The development of freight rates, which was lower than expectations due to unwavering intense competition, and a comparatively weak US dollar against the euro had a negative impact on its earnings position. At USD 1.23 / EUR, the average dollar / euro exchange rate was significantly weaker than in the prior year period (USD 1.07 / EUR)."

The container line added that "the substantial increase in the average bunker price compared with the prior year period had a negative impact on earnings", whilst higher transport volume and an optimised cost structure for transport-related expenses meant it was able to partially offset these effects.

Hapag-Lloyd's executive board remarked: "The development of earnings in the first three months of the 2018 financial year was below the Executive Board's expectations, primarily as a result of the significant increase in bunker prices and a changed cost structure due to the new service network. Moderate growth in volumes led to a corresponding rise in revenue and costs.

"As competition remains intense in the container shipping industry, the development of freight rates was slightly less than expected. The realisation of synergies from the merger with UASC was able to partly offset the increased transport costs. The frameworks for economic development are not subject to any material changes, however."

Hapag-Lloyd added that it expects to see "a clear rise" in the average price it pays for bunkers in 2018.