cmg

CMA CGM back in the black in Q3

CMA CGM moved back into the black in the third quarter, and recorded a net profit of $49m for the nine-month period.

However, in the third quarter, the French carrier was beaten to its ‘best in class’ financial performance ranking by Hapag-Lloyd which reported a stronger recovery.

CMA CGM’s turnover during Q3 increased by 6.3% on the same period last year, to $6.06bn, earned from a 5.5% rise in volume carried, at 5.26m teu.

The carrier said the 5.5% jump in liftings was mainly attributable to the strength of its transpacific, India, Oceania and Africa tradelanes.

Indeed, according to research by Alphaliner, on the transpacific eastbound trade from Asia to the US the Ocean Alliance carrier was the main beneficiary of the botched start-up of ONE, which resulted in the Japanese merged carriers’ combined volumes plummeting.

“After consolidating for the volumes of APL and ANL, CMA CGM has overtaken ONE to become the second-largest transpacific carrier,” noted Alphaliner.

However, CMA CGM saw its average rate per teu virtually flat, at plus 0.8%, while its unit costs jumped 7.7%, an increase of $55 per teu, compared with Q3 2017.

The disappointing increase in CMA CGM’s average rate is surprising, given the boost in its transpacific liftings and the 70-80% leap in freight rates on the route during the period, as shippers rushed to beat the hikes in US duty on Chinese imports brought in by the Trump administration.

This suggests the carrier had to discount rates on other tradelanes in order to protect market share. One UK-based forwarder told The Loadstar that CMA CGM was “now perhaps the most aggressive carrier” between Asia and North Europe.

On 7 September, The Loadstar reported: “CMA CGM has shocked the market by reducing Asia-North Europe FAK rates at a time when most carriers are trying to drive them up.”

The carrier’s FAK rates, valid from 24 September, lopped $200 off its 40ft rate, to $1,800.

CMA CGM said its increased costs – mainly due to the hike in the price of bunkers – “was only partially offset by the introduction of an emergency bunker surcharge”.

Operating income declined by 57.5% for an ebit of $241m and a margin of 4%, versus the 10.4% margin achieved in Q3 the previous year.

The net profit for the period was $103m, 68% lower than the year before, as CMA CGM admitted it had failed in its endeavours to pass on higher fuel costs to its customers.

By comparison, Hapag-Lloyd’s revenue during the same period, from liftings of 3.1m teu, came in at $3.5bn for an operating profit of $252m, an ebit margin of 7.1% and a net profit of $137m.

Source: The Loadstar

china usa

China-US trade war tariffs force manufacturing moves

The failure of the US and China to agree on trade at the weekend makes further tariffs on Chinese goods to the US seem increasingly likely.

But while most economists agree that trade wars are ineffective and harmful, some players in the logistics industry are seeing opportunities – mostly in air freight, which typically benefits from chaos and change.

The likelihood of 25% tariffs on a wide range of goods has seen the ocean freight industry surprisingly busy in the past couple of weeks, as exporters look to move goods to beat the 1 January deadline.

But ultimately, shippers and logistics service providers are looking to new manufacturing possibilities – and therefore supply chains – in South-east Asia.

Large numbers of US companies are talking of shifting manufacturer. Robert Rucker, CEO of The Tile Shop, said in an October earnings call: “With the Chinese tariffs, we are looking at moving. And right now: we’re at roughly 50% of our product coming out of Asia, my goal is to get that closer to 25% or even lower, and the potential for doing that right now is very good. We’re not waiting.”

James Simms, CFO of Vicor Corp, said in his earnings call: “The cost, going forward, may not be inconsequential, given the volume of components currently sourced from China. We are seeking non-Chinese alternate vendors.”

And Todd Bluedorn, CEO of Lennox International: “I’m not sure the Chinese tariffs are going to be short term. And so we’re taking action to sort of avoid the tariffs by moving to South-east Asia and other low-cost countries that can meet our requirements.”

It will take a while for companies to build new supply chains, and in the meantime carriers are already benefiting.

“It is the peak for China to the US, but it’s compounded by tariffs,” said Robert van de Weg, vice president sales and marketing for Volga-Dnepr Group. “There is a build up.

“A lot of this inventory was supposed to go by ship, but it’s going by air to be on time.

“If tariffs have a general effect on the economy and trade flows, there will be some change before it settles down into the new equilibrium.”

The question for carriers will be when to add capacity – and to where.

“South-east Asia could see new trade flows, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh,” said Mr van de Weg. “There will be more opportunities out of South-east Asia and a degree of chaos, as the supply chains won’t be ready. Plus, factories will have to move. However, I don’t believe the change will be sharp and sudden.”

AirbridgeCargo (ABC) is the V-D group’s Asia specialist and is currently looking at developing its South-east Asian network.

“We are looking at increasing the frequencies and maybe opening new markets. You don’t want to be too early, you don’t want to be too late. Don’t miss the boat, but don’t lose your shirt. You need to be prepared to go in. Increasing frequencies to existing points is the first step.”

ABC currently operates to Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Singapore and Taipei.

Mr van de Weg added: “Bangladesh is interesting. We have made progress on ACC3 certification there. We also think Indonesia and Thailand have potential. There is more and more infrastructure and more overland networks with Cambodia and Vietnam, and there is also a strong import market.”

Air freighter volumes appear to be rising in the region, with Thailand seeing international volumes this year above the market average growth, at more than 6%.

Cambodia’s Phnom Penh saw 24% growth, year on year, in cargo volumes in September. The Vietnamese civil aviation authority is forecasting 18% growth annually in freight volumes each year up to 2020.

Source: The Loadstar

christmas

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bunker surcharge

CMA CGM group announce raise to emergency bunker surcharge from December 1st

CMA CGM Group, which includes ocean carrier APL, has raised its emergency bunker surcharge (EBS) to $100 per teu for all deepsea cargo movements from 1 December.

Introduced by the French carrier and a number of its peers on 1 June, in response to higher fuel prices, the controversial EBS was initially set by CMA CGM at $55 per teu.

The charge varied between carriers, for instance Maersk Line’s EBS was $60 per teu, while MSC did not publish its EBS and referred to it as a “temporary measure”.

Shippers expressed anger about the attempt by carriers to impose similar surcharges, which they suggested could be construed as price signalling, and also questioned the validity of the word “emergency”, alleging the container lines were attempting to claw back compensation for the gradual rise in bunker costs over the past quarters.

Indeed, the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) complained to the European Commission, saying: “The application of any emergency surcharge should be reserved for events that cannot be foreseen (such as a crisis influencing the availability of oil). In those situations, it would be unreasonable to have the carrier bear alone the impact on the price of bunker fuel.”

In practice however, many shippers had contracts that were inclusive of bunker surcharges and were therefore unaffected, while for spot business the EBS was gradually rolled up into the freight rate.

It is surprising therefore after the failure of carriers to make their EBS notices stick to see that CMA CGM is persisting with its surcharge.

CMA CGM justifies its EBS hike based on the historical average price of Brent crude in October. However, from its high of $86 a barrel last month its price has fallen to a six-month low of $72, due to supply and trade war concerns.

Meanwhile, most of CMA CGM’s peers are focusing on preparing shippers for a surcharge to compensate for the higher cost of low-sulphur fuel after the IMO’s new 0.5% sulphur cap regulations commence on 1 January 2020.

Equally controversial, given the opaque nature of the carriers’ various low-sulphur fuel surcharge formulae, many shipping lines are proposing to roll out their new bunker surcharge recovery mechanisms from 1 January next year – some 12 months before the IMO regulations come into force.

Currently, heavy fuel oil (HFO), which ships consume in the main legs of their voyages, is at around $450 per tonne,, whereas low-sulphur marine gas oil (LSMGO) is $200 -$250 per tonne more expensive.

Some analysts predict the ‘spread’ could double come January 2020, but equally there are a few experts that suggest that the gap could eventually be much narrower, given that in terms of supply and demand, the majority of ships will need to consume low-sulphur fuel, with perhaps only 5% fitted with exhaust gas cleaning scrubbers still requiring HFO.

They also put forward an argument that the higher demand for low-sulphur fuel will induce more refiners to produce more, leading to long-term decline in prices.

Source: The Loadstar