China’s COSCO Shipping Holdings Co Ltd said it expects to post a net loss of 9.9 billion yuan ($1.44 billion) for 2016, citing the impact of asset disposal and a weak freight market.
The container shipping arm of state-owned China COSCO Shipping Corp Ltd also said in a statement late on Wednesday that freight rates began to recover in the fourth quarter which likely helped it to a 700 million yuan fourth-quarter profit before interest and tax.
The forecast full-year loss would be COSCO Shipping’s weakest annual performance since 2011 after the firm began restructuring last year in response to a prolonged market downturn. In 2015, net profit was 283 million yuan.
The shipping line also said it was starting to see benefits from its restructuring, under which it sold its dry bulk business and other divisions at a loss to its parent last year as part of a wide-ranging merger of China Ocean Shipping Group Co and China Shipping Group Co.
In turn, that merger was part of a consolidation trend throughout the container shipping industry as liners battle to survive an environment of slow demand and excess vessels.
Jefferies analyst Andrew Lee in a research note said COSCO Shipping’s annual profit forecast was broadly in line with expectations, taking into account one-off exceptional items, and that its fourth-quarter performance was better than expected.
COSCO Shipping’s Hong Kong-listed shares were 0.34 percent lower in morning trade while its mainland-listed stock was down 0.55 percent.
COSCO Shipping’s sister firms – financial services platform COSCO Shipping Development Co Ltd and tanker line COSCO Shipping Energy Transportation Co Ltd – in separate statements said they expected to post profit for 2016.