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Maersk sees first-quarter boost from strong container demand

FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen next to Maersk shipping containers at a logistics center near Tianjin port, in Tianjin, China December 12, 2019. Picture taken December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Yilei Sun

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Shipping group Maersk said on Wednesday that a surge in demand for container shipping will boost earnings in the first quarter and that it expects higher profits this year.

Increased demand for goods like furniture, exercise equipment and home improvement goods from shoppers sheltering at home during the pandemic has triggered a spike in shipping rates, boosting Maersk’s earnings.

Maersk’s ocean shipping business, its largest division, “performed at record level in the quarter as a consequence of the strong rebound of demand,” CEO Soren Skou said in a statement.

“Our continued progress makes us confident that we will continue to grow the earnings of the company as the economic situation normalises in 2021 and beyond,” Skou said.

The world’s largest container shipping line, Maersk said it expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) before restructuring and integration costs of $8.5 billion-$10.5 billion this year, up from $8.3 billion last year.

In the fourth quarter last year, EBITDA rose 85% to $2.71 billion, beating the 2.68 billion forecast by analysts.

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