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COSCO defies market pressures with reduced expenses

COSCO Shipping Lines showed an unusually strong result in 2Q 2023, becoming the only carrier to significantly improve its finances compared to 1Q 2023, after an apparently highly successful cost-cutting move, according to Alphaliner.

COSCO Ship Holding’s container shipping business, represented by COSCO Shipping Lines and OOCL, recorded revenue of US$7.91 billion in 2Q 2023, compared with US$4.5 billion in 1Q 2023. Net profit stood at US$1.84 billion in 2Q 2023, more than tripling from US$572.1 million in 1Q 2023.

Alphaliner noted that COSCO Shipping Lines’ operating margin in 2Q 2023 was 27%, higher than its average of 23.5% for the first six months of the year.

The fourth largest liner operator cut operating costs by 37% year-on-year during 1H 2023, saving around US$5.6 billion, compared with 2022.

The greatest savings were made in equipment and cargo transportation costs, which fell 55%, while voyage costs were reduced by 11%. COSCO Shipping Lines’ fleet capacity was stable over the period.

Without the cost savings, COSCO Shipping Lines’ operational results were in line with market averages, as its cargo volumes increased to 5.9 million TEU in 2Q 2023, compared with 5.4 million TEU in 1Q 2023.

Alphaliner noted that there was a significant gap between the best and worst margin performers. ZIM and Wan Hai Lines were the only two carriers in negative territory, repeating the scenario seen in 1Q 2023. Wan Hai had a negative operating margin of 7.9%. At the other end of the scale, Hapag-Lloyd reported the second highest margin after COSCO Shipping Lines, at 18.3%.

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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