For Danish shipping and logistics giant A.P. Moller – Maersk 2020 has been another year of solid progress, both in terms of financial performance and in transforming the company. Despite low volumes during most of 2020, profitability grew throughout the first nine months and ended the year with record Q4 results in Logistics and Terminals, while Ocean delivered an exceptional quarter driven by the increased volumes and current, temporary supply chain disruptions.
“2020 will forever be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic that negatively impacted our lives, jobs, businesses and the global economy. I am proud that we have accelerated our transformation and delivered earnings growth during every quarter of 2020, despite very different market conditions, beginning with negative COVID-19 impact in the first half to a rebound in Q4,” says Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller – Maersk.
The company grew underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) 44 pct. to USD 8.2bn and revenue grew to USD 39.7bn in 2020 compared to USD 38.9bn last year. While the demand surge in the second half of year created supply chain bottlenecks, including vessel and container shortages, and led to higher rates that contributed approximately USD 1.5bn to results, Ocean further improved its intrinsic performance by focusing on costs, agile capacity management and launching new digital offerings.
Logistics & Services grew to USD 7bn, compared to USD 6.3bn last year, and EBITDA improved 110 pct. to USD 454m, supported by the acquisition of Performance Team as well as improved performance in intermodal, air freight forwarding and warehousing and distribution.
“Our customers want us to help them build more resilient supply chains and buy more end-to-end services. Consequently, our logistics business more than doubled earnings in 2020. We are today a profitable, growing logistics company with a broad offering of ocean and air transportation, port services and logistical capabilities, including warehousing, custom services and lead logistics,” adds Søren Skou.
Gateway terminals saw a decrease in revenue of 3.9 pct. to USD 3.2bn in 2020 because of lower volumes due to impact from the pandemic. EBITDA increased by 8.3 pct. to USD 989m, reflecting an improved EBITDA margin to 31 pct. driven by higher revenue per move and cost reductions in several terminals.
In 2020, free cash flow improved to USD 4.6bn from USD 2.3bn leading to a USD 2.5bn reduction of net debt and USD 1.3bn returns to shareholders. Net result amounted to USD 2.9bn and the Board of Directors will recommend a dividend of DKK 330/share, up from DKK 150/share to the AGM on 23 March 2021.
Søren Skou concludes: “Financially, we left 2020 with a very strong balance sheet and little debt, which will allow us to continue to invest in our transformation and grow profitably. We are well equipped to deal with the ongoing market volatility and also to benefit from a world that hopefully starts to re-open.”
Guidance for 2021
With the current outlook, there continues to be a high degree of uncertainty related to the impact from COVID-19 on the economic growth and global demand patterns. A.P. Moller – Maersk expects another year of earnings growth and transformation progress. The shipping giant expect the current, exceptional situation to continue into 2021 with Q1 to be stronger than Q4, followed by a normalisation thereafter, and announce a guidance for the full-year 2021 of an underlying EBITDA in the range of USD 8.5-10.5bn, compared to USD 8.3bn in 2020. This is equivalent to an underlying EBIT guidance of USD 4.3-6.3bn and a free cash flow of above USD 3.5bn.
Ocean is expected to grow in line with the global container demand at an expected 3-5 pct. in 2021, with the highest growth seen in the first half-year.
A global leader in shipping services Maersk operates in 130 countries and employs roughly 80,000 people.