Maersk Warned Of Murky Waters Ahead

Maersk Warned Of Murky Waters Ahead
Daniel Johnston

4 months ago2 mins

What’s going on here?

Shipping giant Maersk sounded the foghorn and warned about a darkening outlook for global trade on Friday.

What does this mean?

Maersk has been navigating choppy waters lately. Despite beating expectations last quarter with some savvy cost-cutting, the company’s revenue was actually 40% lower than the same period last year. The culprit: global consumer demand, which is drying up faster than a Saharan puddle in early August. As a result, companies are playing it safe, choosing to work through their existing stockpiles rather than splashing out on new orders. And that cautious approach is mirrored in shipping rates, which took a 50% belly flop last quarter and are now floating below pre-pandemic levels. Those waves have got Maersk, already steering a cautious course, further trimming its sails: the company is now bracing for global container trade to shrink up to 4% this year, a gloomier outlook than its previous 2.5% contraction prediction.

Container rates fall

Why should I care?

Zooming in: Not quite in the same boat.

Not everyone in the shipping industry is on the same page. Consider Maersk’s rival MSC, which used its hefty profit from the last few boom years to launch a fleet of new vessels. But that move might be a case of bad timing: with demand sinking, an oversupply could further depress shipping rates. Meanwhile, Maersk has been diversifying by building up its land-based logistics. But even this strategy is facing headwinds: Maersk saw its first revenue drop in years for the segment, and is now planning job and capacity cuts.

The bigger picture: A rising tide.

Given Maersk ships about a sixth of all containers worldwide, its grim forecast typically carries weight for the outlook of the global economy too. But while things don't look so great for shipping trade, the IMF is actually getting more optimistic about the global economy: it upped its outlook for growth to 3% last week.

IMF lifts forecastIMF lifts forecast


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