The best of times certainly beats the worst of times

The first quarter of 2021 has been the best time for global container shipping lines. Year-to-year comparisons of course make no sense. The first quarter of 2020 has been the worst of times for much of the world as COVID-19 spreads.

Yet under “normal” times, shipping companies see a slowdown in the first three months of a calendar year. The peak shipping season for the December holidays has passed. Asian factories have taken a hiatus for the Chinese New Year. This is not the case in 2021. Consumer demand for Asian imports has not weakened. And many Chinese factories have remained open during the traditional two-week holiday shutdown to meet this continued demand.


CMA CGM was the last shipping giant to release stellar figures for the first quarter of 2021.

The French company last week said total first-quarter revenue of $ 10.7 billion, up 49.2% from the first quarter of 2020, which it said was “affected by a slowdown of international trade due to the foreclosure measures, particularly in China “.

In the shipping segment, revenues were $ 8.6 billion, an increase of 57.4% year-over-year. First quarter shipping volume increased 10.7% year-over-year to 5.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). The average income per TEU was $ 1,574.

CMA CGM Group’s profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) was $ 3.2 billion, a margin of 29.7%, more than double the 13.5% of the first quarter 2020.

“In the first quarter of 2021, the strong demand for the transport of consumer goods observed in the second half of 2020 continued,” CMA CGM said in the publication of its results last week. “Congestion at a number of ports and, more generally, strong pressure on global supply chains persisted. In this unprecedented context, the CMA CGM Group continues to adapt its services and operations to best meet the needs of its customers.


The Chinese company COSCO SHIPPING Holdings Co. Ltd. reported an incredible jump in net profit, from 291.51 million yuan (RMB) ($ 45.03 million) in the first quarter of 2020 to 15.45 billion RMB ($ 2.39 billion) ) this year.

Operating income increased 79.5%, from 36.10 billion RMB ($ 5.57 billion) to 64.84 billion RMB ($ 10.01 billion).

Container volume increased by almost 21% to 6.78 million TEUs, compared to 5.6 million TEUs in the first quarter of 2020.

Evergreen Marine Corp.

Evergreen, headquartered in Taiwan, posted the best revenue performance in its history in the first quarter.

First-quarter revenues totaled $ 90.24 billion in New Taiwan, which is equivalent to $ 3.17 billion in U.S. dollars, just over double the revenues for the first quarter of 2020.


German giant Hapag-Lloyd’s profit before interest and tax in the first quarter of 2021 of $ 1.5 billion was equal to EBIT for the four quarters of 2020.

In the first quarter alone, EBIT increased by $ 1.36 billion, from $ 176 million in 2020 to $ 1.53 billion this year.

EBITDA totaled approximately $ 1.9 billion, an improvement of nearly $ 1.4 billion from $ 517 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Hapag-Lloyd’s first quarter net income of approximately $ 1.45 billion represents an improvement of $ 1.42 billion from the $ 27 million first quarter 2020 profit.

First-quarter revenue improved by around 33% to $ 4.9 billion, largely due to a higher freight rate, which grew on average by around 38% at $ 1,509 per TEU, up from $ 1,094 per TEU in the first quarter of 2020, Hapag-Lloyd said.

AP Møller – Maersk

Maersk reported net profit of $ 2.7 billion for the first quarter of 2021, up from $ 197 million in the first quarter of 2020. Profits for the first quarter of 2021 were not much lower than profits of $ 2.96 billion. for the full year 2020. The group’s first quarter EBITDA was $ 4 billion, a leap year of 166%. during the year.

Total revenue was $ 12.4 billion. Ocean segment revenues increased 36% year-on-year to $ 9.48 billion, driven by a 35% increase in freight rates, to an average of $ 2,662 per forty-foot equivalent unit (FEU ), and a 5.7% increase in quarterly volume, to 3.2 million LEU. Ocean’s EBITDA was $ 3.4 billion, three times more in one year.

Orient Overseas container line

Orient Overseas (International) Ltd. (OOIL) of Hong Kong, the parent company of OOCL, announced that first quarter total revenue jumped 96% to $ 3.01 billion, from $ 1.54 billion in the first quarter of 2020 .

Total volumes increased 23.8% for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, from 1.59 million TEUs in 2020 to 1.97 million TEUs in the first quarter of 2021.


CEO Eli Glickman said ZIM had a “really big” first quarter.

The Israeli shipping company reported a net profit of $ 589.6 million for the first quarter of 2021, compared to a loss of $ 11.9 million in the first quarter of last year.

Revenue increased 112%, from $ 823.2 million in the first quarter of last year to $ 1.74 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

ZIM’s average freight rate in the first quarter increased 76% year-on-year to $ 1,925.

Editor-in-chief Greg Miller contributed to this recap of first quarter results.

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Click here for more articles on US Shippers / FreightWaves by Editor Kim Link-Wills.

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