Maersk sees profit growth of up to 43% after 'unusual' year

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Copenhagen - AP Moller-Maersk predicted its profit for next year will grow as much as 43% after the owners of the world’s biggest shipping company fell short of meeting expectations in 2017.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will be in the range of $4bn to $5bn in 2018, the company said on Friday. That compares with the $3.5bn it booked in 2017. The company proposed a dividend of $24 a share.

Chief executive officer Soren Skou described last year as “unusual and eventful,” in a statement on Friday. But he assured investors that the company’s “vision of becoming the global integrator of container logistics, connecting and simplifying our customers’ supply chains, is taking shape.”

Maersk’s full year 2017 numbers:

Revenue was $30.9bn Ebit reached $641m vs. estimate of $1.03bn.

The underlying result was $356m vs. estimate of $425.4m ROE after tax minus 3.7%.

Skou said 2017 was characterised by “strong underlying market conditions.” But the result was hurt in part after Maersk was hit by a cyberattack in June that mainly affected its Maersk Line unit. Weaker rates and increasing bunker costs, “especially in the fourth quarter,” also dragged down last year’s result, he said.

Maersk Line won market share in the last three months of the year, with volumes growing 3.6%. That’s more than the 3% growth in container shipping market overall. But costs rose 3.7% in the quarter, as Maersk absorbed the effect of higher prices for bunker fuel.

Maersk is working toward completing an historic split of its conglomerate structure, as it sheds its energy units to focus on transport. The company has found new owners for two of the four units, selling its oil business and its tanker operations for almost $10bn combined.

Management still needs to offload its drilling arm and a supply service unit. Maersk has given itself an end-of-2018 deadline to sort out these deals.

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