HAMBURG (dpa-AFX) - Hamburg-based container shipping company Hapag-Lloyd aims to be in the black operationally this year. Due to the positive business development in the first quarter, the Executive Board now expects to reach the upper half of the target ranges issued, the company announced in Hamburg on Wednesday. For operating earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT), this was previously between minus 1 and plus 1 billion euros. However, the forecast is subject to a high degree of uncertainty in view of the highly volatile development of transport prices and major geopolitical challenges.

In the first quarter, however, Hapag-Lloyd suffered a significant decline in earnings. Turnover fell by almost a quarter to 4.3 billion euros. Operating profit slumped by around 80 percent to 365 million euros. However, analysts had expected even less. At the bottom line, the profit attributable to shareholders fell even more sharply to just under 295 million euros.

During the pandemic, all freight shipping companies had benefited from disruptions in supply chains with a lack of capacity and high demand for transportation by sea. Prices, or freight rates in industry jargon, skyrocketed. However, there is currently an oversupply of ships on the world's oceans. Global trade is also weakening. At the same time, the ongoing violence by the Houthi militia against merchant ships in the Red Sea has recently caused freight rates to rise again somewhat.

UBS analyst Cristian Nedelcu noted the significantly better cost development of Hapag-Lloyd in the first quarter. He also referred to the development of freight prices, which in his opinion harbor a certain upside potential for profitability in the second and third quarters./lew/niw/stk