Daily Brief: Maersk Spies Trouble Ahead, Which Doesn’t Bode Well For The Rest Of Us

Daily Brief: Maersk Spies Trouble Ahead, Which Doesn’t Bode Well For The Rest Of Us

about 2 years ago3 mins

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Shipping giant Maersk reported strong full-year results on Wednesday, but there might be trouble on the horizon…

What does this mean?

Companies were still struggling to get materials and products delivered last quarter, as portside congestion and a container shortage continued to slow the shipping industry down. They were so desperate, in fact, that Maersk was able to hike prices 80% higher than the same time in 2020 without putting customers off. So it’s no wonder Maersk made 64% more in revenue, even though those same shortages meant it shipped fewer containers. That pushed the company’s full-year revenue up by 55% versus the year before.

But Maersk soon brought investors back to earth: it’s expecting supply issues to ease up in the second half of this year, which could force the company to bring down its record-high prices. That might be why it gave a weaker-than-expected profit outlook for this year, and why deflated investors initially sent its shares down 5%.

Maersk stock
Source: Google Finance

Why should I care?

The bigger picture: Maersk runs aground.

Maersk knows the sea shipping boom won’t last forever, which might be why it’s investing in areas that have more room to grow, like “land-based logistics”. Case in point: the company announced on Wednesday that it’s buying trucking firm Pilot Freight Services for $1.7 billion, which should help it offer more services across customers’ supply chains – from sea-borne shipping to last-mile delivery.

Container rates

Zooming out: The economy’s sinking.

Maersk handles a fifth of all containers shipped globally, which means its performance tends to reflect the strength of global trade and, by extension, the wider economy. So the fact it’s expecting shipping growth to slow down this year doesn’t bode particularly well. That’s not the first worrying sign either: the World Bank recently said it’s expecting global economic growth to slow from 5.5% last year to 4.1% this year, as inflation and Covid continue to stifle demand.

World bank cuts forecast
Source: Bloomberg

Keep reading for our next story...

Toyota's Expecting To Make Fewer Cars Than Planned This Quarter

Toyota image

Toyota said on Wednesday it’s expecting to make half a million fewer cars than planned this quarter, as the electric vehicle (EV) novice struggles to leave the good old days behind.

What does this mean?

It’s hard to be a carmaker these days: the chip shortage and rising cost of materials is still hindering production, and Toyota – which reported its quarterly results on Wednesday – is feeling the pain. The company reported a 6% drop in profit last quarter compared to the same time in 2020 – which, in fairness, was better than analysts were expecting.

But that’s where the good news ends: Toyota reckons chips will be in short supply for a while still, and admitted that it might hurt production in the future. In fact, the company reckons it’ll make as many as 480,000 fewer cars than planned this quarter. It’ll cut costs to offset some of that shortfall, sure, but its profit outlook for its full financial year still missed expectations.

Toyota revenue
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Why should I care?

Zooming in: Toyota’s late to the party.

Even with this drop-off in production, Toyota still managed to sell 10% more cars in 2021 than it did in 2020, earning it the title of the world’s biggest carmaker for the second-straight year. But it might struggle to hold onto that accolade: the company’s been slow to develop EVs, which last year made up just 1% of Toyota’s total sales even as sales of EVs themselves doubled in size. But it’s finally taking note: the carmaker announced in December that it’s planning to invest $35 billion into battery-powered EVs.

EV sales double 2021

The bigger picture: Fool Europe once…

The chip shortage is crippling Japanese and European carmakers alike, which might be why the European Union (EU) announced this week that it’s planning to invest $50 billion into its chip industry by 2030 – part of a plan to quadruple chip production and double its share of the market in the same timeframe.

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