World’s Largest Shipping Company Expects 25 Percent Drop in Container Demand

May 13, 2020 Updated: May 13, 2020

COPENHAGEN—The world’s biggest shipping company, Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk, said Wednesday that it expects its transport volumes to drop by up to 25 percent in the second quarter as the world economy slides toward recession.

“As global demand continues to be significantly affected, we expect volumes in the second quarter to decrease across all businesses, possibly by as much as 20 percent – 25 percent,” Chief Executive Soren Skou said in a statement.

Skou said that the group was “strongly positioned to weather the storm” but that the COVID-19 crisis had “a significant impact” on its activities.

The group said its full-year outlook contained “high uncertainties,” and the global container demand “is expected to contract in 2020 due to COVID-19.” It previously was for growth of 1-3 percent.

The shipping group presented its first-quarter results, which showed revenue edged down to $9.6 billion from $9.5 billion for the same period last year. It booked a profit of $209 million, up from a loss of $656 million.

Maersk said it had cancelled more than 90 sailings, or 3.5 percent of total shipping capacity in the first quarter to deal with the slowdown in trade and keep freight rates from falling. It expects to cancel some 140 sailings in the April to June period.

The group reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) at $1.52 billion, slightly above company guidance provided in March when it suspended full-year guidance due to uncertainty caused by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus pandemic.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.