A.P. Moller-Maersk (Maersk) will accelerate its growth and investment strategy after what it described as a year of “solid progress” in 2020 despite the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its annual financial results, Maersk said it was prepared for the chaos caused by the pandemic and that it will continue its acquisition policy and long-term goal of providing end-to-end supply chain services.
Søren Skou, Maersk’s CEO, said, “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.”
The carrier saw low volumes during most of 2020 and said that there is still considerable uncertainty due to the pandemic, but that it expects to see better profits in Q1 2021 than it did in Q4 in 2020.
It grew its underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) 44% to $8.2 billion and revenue grew to $39.7 billion in 2020 compared to $38.9 billion in 2019.
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 $1.5 billion, Maersk’s Ocean segment further improved its performance by focusing on costs, agile capacity management and launching new digital offerings, the company said.
Skou claimed 2020 will forever be remembered for the effects of the pandemic but that Maersk had performed well.
“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.”
High freight rates and low oil prices have meant many of the world’s largest carriers fared relatively well during the pandemic as demand for goods, in particular home equipment has rapidly increased as people work remotely.