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HHLA confirms positive 2021 Q1 performance

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) has announced a strong start in the 2021 financial year, despite the ongoing influence of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting global imbalances in transport flows.

HHLA achieved a year-on-year increase of 26.4% in its Group operating result (EBIT) to €46.3 million in the first quarter of 2021 and noted that the positive business development was attributable to high storage fees as a result of continued shipping delays at the Port of Hamburg as well as a strong increase in container transport volumes.

Whereas container transport rose by 10.7% in the first quarter, container throughput fell significantly by 6.6% (1.677 million TEU) in the first three months of the year compared with the same period a year earlier. HHLA believes the decrease is due to the loss of a Far East service at Container Terminal Burchardkai in May 2020.

While throughput volume at the three Hamburg container terminals was down 7.2% on the same period last year, the international container terminals in Odessa and Tallinn only recorded a slight decline of 0.3% to 143,800TEU. At the same time, the multi-function terminal in Trieste went into operation in the first quarter, handling its first ro-ro vessels.

"Based on the course of business in the first three months of the year, we are optimistic that we will achieve our targets for the 2021 financial year," Angela Titzrath, chairwoman of HHLA’s executive board, forecast. "We continue to implement our strategy of strengthening the competitiveness and future viability of HHLA with determination and consistency. We are focusing on measures to carry out the restructuring programme in the container segment," she added.

In the meantime, the listed Port Logistics subgroup recorded a 4.4% rise in revenue to €342 million in the first quarter of the current year, while the operating result (EBIT) skyrocketed by 33.4% to €43.3 million and the EBIT margin improved by 2.8 percentage points to 12.7%.

In the first three months of 2021, HHLA’s transport companies recorded a significant increase in volumes in the Intermodal segment with container transport increased by 10.7% to 418,000 TEU and rail continued to benefit more than road from the recovery in freight volumes that had already begun in the second half of 2020.

Compared with the previous year, rail transport increased by 12.1% to 336,000TEU, while there was a significant increase in traffic from both the North German and Adriatic seaports. However, the strong year-on-year growth was mainly attributable to the rise in continental traffic, according to HHLA, which noted that the upward trend of the previous quarters continued for road transport.

For the current 2021 financial year, HHLA still expects to see a moderate year-on-year increase for the Port Logistics subgroup, both in terms of container throughput and container transport.

In addition, a moderate year-on-year increase is also expected in terms of revenue, while HHLA said that after the operating result (EBIT) in the 2020 financial year was burdened by net provisions amounting to approximately €43 million for an efficiency programme in the Container segment, EBIT for the Port Logistics subgroup in the range of €140 to €165 million is targeted for the current financial year.

Moreover, at the Group level, HHLA anticipates a moderate increase in revenue and an operating result (EBIT) in the range of €153 million and €178 million.

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