Major German carrier Rickmers Group noted significant improvements in its businesses during the first half of 2015, and this seems to indicate that the company's comprehensive efforts to shake off the traditional German approach to shipping is paying off.
In the first half of the year, the group's revenue increased 6.6 percent, to EUR 289.6 million, from EUR 271.7 million in the same period last year, while the operating profit (EBITDA) grew 35.4 percent to EUR 137.4 million, according to a statement from Rickmers. The carrier will publish its full second quarter interim report next week.
"This clear increase in the operating result is due to the successful implementation of the sustainable cost-management programme in particular at Rickmers-Linie, and is also attributable to favourable exchange-rate effects following the rise in the value of the US dollar," notes the company.
Change in corporate structure
However, the net result was affected by one-off items and increased to EUR 2.6 million, from a USD 1 million profit in the same period last year. In the winter, Rickmers Group reached a comprehensive restructuring agreement for the group's debt, and on June 1st the company changed its structure from being a fund-owned KG company to now being a limited company. In an interview with ShippingWatch in early July, CEO Dr. Ignace Van Meenen explained that Rickmers Group is moving from a transformation phase to an expansion phase, a fact that is also evident from the latest statement. In the first half of the year, the company invested in three energy efficient container ships that will be placed on long-term charter with French CMA CGM upon delivery in 2016. And this development will continue, stressed Van Meenen:
"This expansion will mainly be fueled by three drivers: fleet growth, especially in the sector of energy-efficient large container vessels, intensified service business and the achieved turn-around of our Rickmers-Linie segment," he told ShippingWatch.
The three segments of Rickmers Group are Maritime Assets, Maritime Services and Rickmers-Linie. The first company is concerned with administration of the assets in Rickmers Group and the company's owned vessels as well as others' vessels, while the next segment deals with ship management, hiring staff and similar tasks. Rickmers-Linie is the company's breakbulk carrier, and in addition to this, Rickmers Group also owns the container carrier Rickmers Maritime based in Singapore.
Only slight improvement
The company expects continued challenging markets for the rest of the year, in spite of rising container volumes. Exchange rates should however still contribute positively in terms of the rising US dollar versus euro, says Rickmers Group.
"Against this backdrop and especially in view of the successful turnaround of Rickmers-Linie, for 2015 the Rickmers Group is raising its forecast compared to the forecast offered in the 2014 Annual Report. Within this, management assumes a clear rise in EBITDA, driven by a slight improvement in revenues and further supported by sustainable cost management. Despite these positive developments the consolidated result is forecast to come in only slightly higher than in 2014, burdened amongst other factors by extraordinary effects related to the change in corporate form."