SeaIntel: Sharks lurking beneath surface of container industry

Most container carriers delivered positive results in the first months of 2015 in spite of record-low rates. But the improved earnings alone is the result of costs being reduced faster than profits, reports SeaIntel.

Photo: Hapag-Lloyd

To outsiders it might seem like a paradox that a majority of the 20 biggest container carriers, led by especially Maersk Line and French CMA CGM, have been able to deliver positive numbers for the first three months of the year at a time when the same carriers are forced to sail at the lowest spot rates ever recorded.

But this development is first of all tied to the significant slide in the oil price since October last year, and second, a closer look at the carriers' first quarter results shows that sharks are lurking just beneath the surface in the coming months. As always, the devil is in the details, says analyst agency SeaIntel in its weekly newsletter, Sunday Spotlight. Here SeaIntel points out that several carriers will be back in deficit-inducing territory in these months.

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