Hapag-Lloyd 9-month profit soars 81% on stable freight rates, low fuel prices

FRANKFURT, Nov 13 (Reuters) - German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd AG reported an 81.1% surge in net profit for the first nine months of the year on Friday, boosted by stable freight rates and low fuel prices but it warned the COVID-19 pandemic remains a challenge.

Net profit for January through September for the world’s fifth biggest container firm was 538 million euros ($635.16 million), compared with 297 million a year earlier.

The company stuck to guidance for full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), which it raised to 2.4-2.6 billion euros last month, and earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to 1.1-1.3 billion.

Hapag-Lloyd, however, posted a 1% fall year-on-year in revenues to 9.4 billion euros and said it was countering it with strict cost management.

“However, with its increasing number of cases worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose high risks to the logistics industry and the supply chains of our customers,” Chief Executive Officer Rolf Habben Jansen said.

Nine-month EBITDA increased 20.4% to 1.8 billion euros and EBIT was up 33.4% at 858 million euros.

Freight rates increased 2% to $1,097 per twenty foot equivalent unit (TEU), boosting incomes, while a drop in so-called bunker - shipping fuel - prices by 5.4% to $402 per tonne helped cut operational costs.

$1 = 0.8470 euros Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Rashmi Aich