Shipping Lines Show Nearly $80 Billion Operating Profit So Far in 2021

Shipping Lines Show Nearly $80 Billion Operating Profit So Far in 2021

Figure is more than double the recorded profits of previous 10 years combined

In newly released figures, all global shipping lines saw revenues increase substantially as a consequence of the record-high freight rates, with Y/Y revenue growth ranging from +83.9% for Maersk to +274.1% for Wan Hai.

This was revelead in an analyses carried out by Sea Intelligence on the Q3 2021 financial and volume performance of the global shipping lines that publish these figures on a quarterly level.

In terms of EBIT, the shipping lines made a whopping $37.24 billion in operating profit in Q3 2021 alone.

Combine this with the H1 2021 operating profit of $42.10 billion, and the carriers have made nearly $80 billion in operating profit so far this year.

And this does not include MSC, the currently second largest (and soon-to-be largest) carrier, which as a privately held company is not required to publish their accounts.

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To put this into perspective, the combined 2010‑2020 operating profit across all quarters was $37.86 billion.

In short, the industry has doubled its operating profit in three quarters of 2021 compared to the entire 2010‑2020 period. This is an unprecedented level of profitability.

The absurd nature of the current supply/demand and freight rate environment is clearly evident in figure 1, with the Q3 2021 EBIT/TEU figure of each of these shipping lines a clear outlier compared to the historical figures.

The smallest EBIT/TEU was recorded by Maersk of $818/TEU, while the remaining carriers all recorded EBIT/TEU of over $1,000/TEU, with ZIM recording an EBIT/TEU of $2,100/TEU.

What sheds even more light on the strength of the freight rates, is that a large number of carriers have seen their Global, Transpacific, and Asia‑Europe transported volumes contract Y/Y, which means that the exceptionally strong EBIT performance for all carriers was driven by strong freight rates.

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