South Korea’s leading container carrier Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. on Friday reported a ninth consecutive operating loss for the second quarter due to a decline in spot container freight rates, betraying the government’s efforts to restore the nation’s shipping industry by grooming the company as the world-class shipper like now-sunken Hanjin Shipping.
According to the company’s regulatory filing on Friday, it reported an operating loss of 128.1 billion won ($112.1 million) on a consolidated basis for the second quarter ended June, narrowing loss from 254.3 billion won a year ago thanks to its cost-cutting efforts. But the company has posted losses for nine straight quarters even after its sales jumped 22.1 percent to 1.24 trillion won over the cited period.
An unnamed official from Hyundai Merchant Marine blamed low freight rates for the losses, noting that the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) fell 25 percent in the second quarter from the previous three months ended March.
Market watchers projected that Hyundai Merchant Marine will continue to remain in red for the rest of this year. According to estimates by Seoul-based market analysis provider FnGuide, Hyundai Merchant Marine is forecast to continue to post an operating loss of about 30 billion won in the third and fourth quarters, each.
Such a gloomy outlook comes despite the Korean government’s all-out efforts to groom the company as the world’s top class container carrier replacing Hanjin Shipping, once the country’s leading and the world’s seventh largest shipper that was bankrupted last year.
While Hyundai Merchant Marine continued to grappling with losses, Japanese peers successfully swung to profits in the April to June period. Japan’s Nippon Yusen Kaisha Line, the world’s 10th largest container carrier, reported an operating profit of 3.57 billion yen in the April-June period while Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, global top 11, 1.15 billion yen.
Industry analysts, however, underscored an improved business environment for Hyundai Merchant Marine citing the recent gain in freight charges in Asia and Europe and enhanced sales capacity of its core operations to the Americas.
The company official said freight charges have increased in the high-demand season of third quarter and the expected loading capacity of the Asia-America route has exceeded 100 percent after last month, raising expectation for a sharp increase in cargo volume.
Hyundai Merchant Marine is projected to raise 5.5 trillion won in sales for the full year of 2017, up 20.8 percent from last year. It would be the first time for the company to raise over 5 trillion won in sales since it embarked on restructuring in 2015.
On Friday, its shares lost 2.3 percent, or 180 won, from the previous session to end at 7,820 won.
By Kim Jung-hwan
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]