The Board of Directors of France’s CMA CGM, the world’s third largest container shipping company, met under the chairmanship of Jacques R. Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, to review the financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2013.
“In 2013, in a difficult market, we successfully reduced our costs while increasing our volumes carried much faster than the market, enabling us to report one of the industry’s best financial performances, “Saadé, said. “In this way, year after year, we are reinforcing our position as the world’s third largest container shipping company. With these solid fundamentals and the pioneering spirit that has always been our strength, we are committed in 2014 to maintaining our profitability and driving faster growth.”
CMA CGM said that in 2013 consolidated revenue remained stable, easing back just 0.1% to $15.9 billion, while volumes carried rose by 7.5% to 11.4 million TEUs, in a market where volumes increased by around 3% over the year. As a result, the decrease in average revenue per TEU was held to 7.1%, which was less than the decline in the corresponding Shanghai Containerized Freight Indices (SCFI).
This performance reflects the diversity of the group’s markets and customers, as well as its growth dynamic, CMA CGM said. The launch of an e-commerce platform and the arrival of two new 16,200-TEU megaships illustrate such dynamic.
While deploying its growth strategy, CMA CGM maintained its operating cost discipline in response to the persistently difficult market conditions. This helped to drive a 5.3% reduction in costs per TEU and deliver an operating margin of 4.8%, one of the industry’s highest.
Consolidated net profit rose by 22.8% over the year to $408 million, partly as a result of the sale of 49% of Terminal Link, our terminal activities subsidiary in June.
In 2013, CMA CGM significantly strengthened its balance sheet and liquidity, thereby enhancing its financial flexibility, the group said. Equity was increased following the subscription of mandatory convertible bonds by France’s sovereign fund FSI (now Bpifrance) and by Yildirim in an amount of respectively $150 million and $100 million. The group has strengthened its financing sources, thanks to the agreement amending the covenants applicable to its bank financings, a €300-million bond issue, the implementation of a new securitization program and additional financings. As a result of the above, rating agencies upgraded CMA CGM to B2 for Moody’s and to B (positive outlook) for S&P.
With more than 20 distinctions awarded in 2013, CMA CGM was once again recognized as a container shipping partner of choice.
According to the company, container shipping overall volumes are expected to increase by 4-5% in 2014. Despite an initial upturn in freight rates at the beginning of the year, the group believes that rates will remain under pressure throughout the year given the persistent mismatch between supply and demand. In response, CMA CGM is continuing to deploy a strategy combining financial discipline and assertive marketing, which should enable it once again to deliver a significantly better operating performance than its peers.
In 2014, CMA CGM said it is especially focusing on fast growing regions with the launch of new services and the development of port infrastructure. This is notably the case in Africa with the strengthening of its lines, the development of overland corridors and the opening of new agencies and logistical terminals.
CMA CGM is also benefiting from the growth in its energy-efficient reefer container fleet, which should account for 50% of the total reefer fleet by year-end, or around 48,000 units. Reefers make it possible to containerize certain product categories that previously had to be carried bulk.
More generally, the group is continuing to align its services to customer needs, with purpose-designed solutions combining sea and overland shipping with logistical services.
Lastly, CMA CGM said it is steadily revamping its information systems with an innovative solution being developed in partnership with SAP.
In addition, deployment of the P3 operational alliance, announced by CMA CGM in June 2013, was cleared by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission last March 20. This alliance is still subject to approval by a variety of regulators in Asia and Europe. The alliance will support the operating efficiency of its members by increasing fleet utilization.