Maersk Line Warns  US-China Trade War Affecting  Container Shipping

Danish shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk beat third-quarter operating profit forecasts on Wednesday, but said a trade war between the U.S. and China had hit demand for container shipping.

Maersk, the world’s biggest container shipper, said the effect of trade tensions could reduce global container trade between 0.5 and 2 per cent during 2019 and 2020.

It said volume growth in container shipping, excluding those from Hamburg Sud, was lower than expected and unexpectedly fell by 1.9 per cent from the previous quarter.

The company narrowed its expectation for full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to 3.6 billion to 4.0 billion dollars from 3.5 billion to 4.2 billion dollars previously.

The former conglomerate is restructuring to focus entirely on transport and logistics and plans to step up competition with delivery companies UPS and Fedex .

Maersk bought German rival Hamburg Sud in 2016, which helped it boost revenue in the quarter by 31 per cent from a year earlier to 10.08 billion dollars, above the 9.98 billion dollars expected by analysts in a Reuters poll.

EBITDA totaled $1.14 billion dollars for the quarter, compared with 1.09 billion forecast by analysts

However, unit costs – a key parameter in the shipping industry showing how competitive prices each liner can offer its customers – rose unexpectedly by 1.5 per cent to 1,809 dollars per forty foot container from the previous quarter.