Increasing demand for goods such as furniture and exercise equipment from consumers under lockdown has led to a rise in freight rates, driving up profits for the Danish shipping giant Maersk.
But the company’s shares fell 8% due to its failure to meet analysts’ expectations for results at the end of last year, who raised the intensity of their cautionary guidance for 2021 more than expected.
On the other hand, Maersk stated that its ocean freight business, which represents the company’s largest division, achieved record levels during the past quarter due to the noticeable improvement in demand.
Helped by record freight levels as well as lower fuel prices, fourth-quarter EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) was 85% higher than a year ago to $2.71 billion, but still less than the $3.06 billion value expected by analysts in a survey compiled by the company.
The shipping industry around the world recovered quickly last year from pandemic-related difficulties in commerce, mainly supported by increased sales by US retailers.
Maersk expects global container trade to rise 3-5% in 2021 after declining 2% last year, as the majority of consumer goods are transported by container shipping companies such as Maersk.
Container ships have been operating at full capacity since August, which is something that hasn’t happened in a decade. Maersk forecasts an EBITDA of $8.5-10.5 billion this year. compared to the company’s $8.3 billion profit last year and the $10.3 billion profit analysts were expecting for this year, Maersk shares were down 6.3% in the trading market.