French container shipping group CMA CGM booked record revenue in 2018 as trans-Pacific goods traffic remained buoyant despite U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, but soaring oil prices cut deep into its profits, it said.
The firm’s 2018 volumes rose by 9.3 percent and for the first time exceeded 20 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) due to a strong performance of most of the shipping lines operated by the group, in particular the Transpacific, India/Oceania and Africa lines.
Full-year revenue grew 11.2 percent to a record $23.48 billion, with fourth-quarter revenue up 14.9 percent to $6.3 billion.
But fuel prices rose 33 percent in 2018, cutting deeply into the firm’s core earnings before interest and taxes, which plunged to $610 million from $1.57 billion in 2017. Net profit was just $34 million from $697 million.
The company said in a statement the trade outlook was positive for 2019, despite geopolitical tensions. In a bid to improve profitability, the firm is launching a new $1.2 billion cost-reduction plan.
The family-owned, unlisted group is the world’s fourth-largest container shipping line. It is also developing a presence in land logistics after becoming the largest shareholder in Swiss firm Ceva Logistics.