Evergreen Marine Corporation chairman Anchor Chang said that container volumes for the second half of this year are expected to recover to levels similar to the period a year-ago, as revenues hold up in face of massive decline in demand.
Speaking at the Taiwanese liner operator’s annual general meeting on 24 June, during which it was announced that dividends would not be distributed, to shareholders’ displeasure, Chang said that as the Covid-19 pandemic dampened supply chains, manufacturing and consumer demand.
Evergreen’s container volumes for February to May fell by 20% year-on-year but Chang stopped short of disclosing volume figures. Revenue over this period totalled TW$55.12 billion (US$1.87 billion), down from TW$60.27 billion (US$1.94 billion), a fall of 3.6% on a year ago.
In 2019, Evergreen revenues were TW$190.5 billion (US$6.34 billion), while pre-tax profit was TW$778.9 million (US$25.92 million), compared with revenue of TW$169.24 billion (US$5.54 billion) and pre-tax profit of TW$1.2 billion (US$39.27 million) in 2018.
He said, “It is estimated that H2 volumes will be restored to the level of the same period last year, but it will be difficult to be better than last year.”
Even so shareholders expressed disbelief at the TW$0.02 earnings per share.
Chang said, “This decision (regarding dividends) was made to stabilise future earnings.”
He added that Evergreen’s affiliated airline, EVA Air, like airlines worldwide, has also been hit as international tourism stopped due to global travel restrictions.
“We have been relying on air cargoes to maintain revenue. We try to ensure a stable income every year, but it’s difficult to say how much it can be,” said Chang, adding, that as some countries eased lockdown restrictions in June, cargo volumes began recovering.
Various industry estimates suggest that container shipping capacity will increase by 2.9% this year, but cargo volumes will decrease by 8.8%.