Maersk Profit Surges, but Shipper Warns of 'Dark Clouds'

The world’s biggest container shipping company added that freight rates "have peaked and started to normalize."

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The world's biggest container shipping company Maersk on Wednesday reported substantially improved third-quarter profit and sales on the back of higher ocean freight rates and acquisitions but warned that there were "dark clouds on the horizon" in the business.

The Copenhagen-based company said profit before taxes stood at $9.5 billion in the July-September period in comparison to $5.9 billion a year earlier.

Revenue increased 37% to $22.8 billion, boosted by higher freight rates in the company's main Ocean business unit and acquisitions completed in the Logistics unit.

Maersk said that "it is clear that freight rates have peaked and started to normalize during the quarter, driven by both decreasing demand and easing of supply chain congestion" and reiterated that earnings in its Ocean unit would come down "in the coming periods."

The company's chief executive, Søren Skou, gave a bleak outlook for the future.

"With the war in Ukraine, an energy crisis in Europe, high inflation, and a looming global recession there are plenty of dark clouds on the horizon," Skou said in a statement. "This weighs on consumer purchasing power which in turn impacts global transportation and logistics demand."

Demand for logistics services moderated across global supply chains in the third quarter, Maersk said, noting that "supply-side bottlenecks" continued to be a challenge, but "there are signs of easing as demand slows and COVID 19-related restrictions in China diminish."

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