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Balance sheet at Cosco shows heavy losses

Caption: © Port of Zeebrugge

Like the other major liner shipping companies, the Chinese state shipping company Cosco also saw its profits plummet last year.

Cosco suffered a year-on-year fall in profits of 84%. This puts the shipping company in good company: other major players in the industry such as Maersk, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd had previously reported similar losses. [ds_preview]

According to the figures now presented, Cosco posted a net profit of US$3.2bn for 2023, with just US$120m remaining in the fourth quarter. In comparison: in the previous year, which had brought record profits for all liner shipping companies, US$20.3bn landed in the coffers.

Fewer transports, lower costs at Cosco

The transport volume also fell, albeit less dramatically, from 24.4 million TEU to 23.5 million TEU. The average freight rate of US$1,055 compared to US$2,637 in the previous year corresponds to a decline of 60%. The shipping company has countered this with a cost-cutting program. According to Alphaliner, it has succeeded in reducing unit costs by around 30%. With cash and cash equivalents of US$2.5 bn, the shipping company is also in a relatively good position compared to the rest of the industry.

According to the industry service Alphaliner, the nine leading shipping companies suffered a combined loss of US$-1.7bn in the fourth quarter – a complete reversal of the trend after generating US$22bn in 2022. A weak market had caused rates to fall sharply before prices picked up again significantly following the start of the Houthi attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and the rerouting of numerous services around the Cape of Good Hope.

Cosco is ranked third among the largest liner shipping companies behind MSC, Maersk and CMA CGM. The fleet capacity is just under 500 ships with a total of 3.1 million TEU. In addition, there is a newbuilding program for 45 freighters with 780,000 TEU.

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