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Moller-Maersk shares surge on container unit gain

August 16, 2013

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk saw profits at its container unit nearly double in the second-quarter, contributing to a big rise in the company’s share price.

Even so, the Copenhagen-based company said Friday that overall profit fell amid lower freight rates and oil production. Net profit in the period fell 13 percent to 4.9 billion kroner ($856 million) compared with a year earlier, while revenue dropped 9 percent to 81 billion kroner ($14.43 billion).

The big bright spot in the results was Maersk Line, which saw profits swell to $439 million from $227 million in the same period a year ago. The company credited the advance to lower costs and a 2.1 percent increase in volumes despite a 13.1 percent decline in average freight rates. The company said the cost decrease was mainly driven by vessel network efficiencies and lower bunker price.

Maersk Line has the world’s biggest container shipping fleet, making up around 15 percent of the global container shipping capacity.

CEO Nils S. Andersen said the unit was “now an industry leader in terms of profitability.”

Jacob Pedersen, an analyst at Denmark’s Sydbank, said the unit’s performance was “impressive.”

Maersk shares surged, closing up almost 9 percent at 48,720 kroner on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange.

Looking ahead, the company cautioned that 2013 is “subject to considerable uncertainty, not least due to developments in the global economy.” It expects full-year net profit to be around $3.3 billion, below the 2012 result of $4 billion.

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