HHLA reports heavy losses before MSC entry

Caption: So far, MSC has been a regular customer of Eurogate (here in Bremerhaven)

Before MSC’s entry, the Hamburg terminal operator HHLA presented significantly worse business figures.

The global economic downturn and the loss of market share in the North Range have caused all key figures at Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG(HHLA) to fall. Nevertheless, a dividend is to be paid[ds_preview].

The figures are not surprising; they confirm a trend that has been observed throughout the year. For 2023, HHLA is reporting an 8.3% drop in consolidated revenue to just under € 1.45 billion and a halved profit (EBIT) of € 109.4 million compared to € 220.4 million in the previous year. The so-called net profit for the year fell even more sharply from € 92.7 million to € 20 million.

Container throughput at HHLA down 7.5%

The listed Port Logistics subgroup recorded a decline in revenue of -8.6% to € 1.4 billion in 2023 (previous year: € 1.54 billion). Container throughput fell by -7.5% compared to 2022 to 5.9 million TEU (6.4 million TEU). Volumes in the Far East trade lane in particular, especially to and from China, declined, according to the report. In addition, significantly lower storage fees were also generated at the Hamburg container terminals after the coronavirus-related congestion eased.

MSC about to acquire a stake in HHLA

The Hamburg Senate has already approved the partial sale of HHLA. The city and the Italian Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), based in Geneva, are to run HHLA as a joint venture in future, with the city holding a majority stake of 50.1%. The city currently owns around 70% of the listed HHLA. In return, the shipping company MSC wants to build its German headquarters in Hamburg, increase the cargo volume in the port from 2025 onwards and increase it to 1 million TEU per year by 2031. MSC and the city also want to increase HHLA’s equity by € 450 million.

The operating result (EBIT) fell by -53.9 % year-on-year to € 92.9 million (previous year: € 201.6 million). Net income after minority interests fell by almost 90% to € 8.7 million (previous year: € 82.1 million).

In the Intermodal segment, container transportation fell by 5.4% overall to 1.6 million TEU (previous year: 1.7 million TEU). Rail transportation decreased by 3.1% compared to the previous year, while road transportation fell by 16.9%. With a turnover of € 620.5 million, there was a drop of -4.2%.

Due to the uncertain development of geopolitical tensions, the ongoing war in Ukraine and the effects of the announced realignment of the shipping companies’ consortium structures, it is difficult to make a forecast, the report continues. However, the HHLA Executive Board expects a significant recovery in container throughput. At Group level, a moderate increase in revenue and an operating result (EBIT) in the range of € 85 million to € 115 million are expected.

The Executive Board and Supervisory Board will propose a dividend of € 0.08 per Class A share at the Annual General Meeting on June 13. HHLA thus confirms its dividend policy of distributing between 50%-70% of the relevant net profit of the Port Logistics subgroup to its shareholders wherever possible.

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