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DHL cuts full-year guidance as second-half recovery doesn’t materialize

Company won’t achieve best-case EBIT level of $7.5 billion

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German transport and logistics giant DHL Group (DHL.DE) said Wednesday it reduced its 2023 earnings forecast in response to a hoped-for second-half global economic recovery that never materialized.

The Bonn-based company said it now expects full-year earnings before interest and taxes to range between $6.6 billion and $7.05 billion. Revenue for the third quarter, which DHL reported Wednesday, fell to $20.7 billion, down sharply from $25.6 billion in the year-earlier quarter. Operating profit in the quarter fell to $1.49 billion from $2.13 billion. 

DHL executives said the year-over-year (y/y) declines were expected amid an environment of slowing demand, higher fuel prices and unfavorable currency fluctuations.

The company has said that its results would hinge on the best-case macro scenario — a recovery that would have started around midyear and continued through the balance of 2023-“no longer applies.” A second-half recovery has “so far failed to materialize” against a backdrop of tighter global monetary policy and the impact of geopolitical crises on overall demand, said DHL CEO Tobias Meyer in a statement.

At this point, DHL is expecting either a macro recovery to kick in at the end of 2023 or no recovery at all until at least 2024. The company will not achieve its best-case forecast of $7.5 billion in 2023 EBIT, it said.

The company’s two largest units, DHL Express, its time-definite air express service, and DHL Global Forwarding, its air and ocean freight forwarding business, reported significant y/y declines as demand and rates fell. At DHL Express, revenue fell 18.2% to $6.19 billion, while EBIT dropped 34.1% to $712 million. At DHL Global Forwarding, revenue fell 44% to $4.7 billion and EBIT dropped more than 46% to $326.6 million.

DHL Supply Chain, the world’s largest contract logistics provider, was the lone bright spot in the quarter. Revenue rose 1.8% to $4.48 billion, while EBIT increased 10.5% to $258 million. Top-line growth came from new business and contract extensions, with e-commerce business a standout, the company said.

DHL eCommerce, the company’s last-mile B2C business, reported a 0.8% drop in revenue to $1.58 billion. Revenue would have risen 3.2% were it not for a $63 million currency hit, DHL said. EBIT dropped 36.8% due to higher costs associated with network expansion.

For 2025, DHL forecast EBIT of between $7.4 billion and $8.5 billion. The company did not address 2024 forecasts in its statement.


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Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.