REGIONAL CONTAINER LINES IS BACK IN PROFITS
Bucking the adverse trend of major container shipping lines, Singapore-based Regional Container Lines improved its profitability in 2002, moving from a net deficit of Baht298 million in 2001 to a net profit of Baht1.2 billion ($29 million) last year.
However, the regional carrier’s freight income fell by 8 percent last year, to Baht12.4 billion ($288 million), from Baht13.4 billion in 2001, and the improvement in profit was due to financial and exceptional items.
Gross profit before administrative expenses was down by 10 percent, to Baht2.3 billion ($53 million), from Baht2.5 billion, and earnings before interest and tax fell to Baht1.4 billion ($35 million), from Baht1.7 billion in 2001.
Regional Container Lines said that its net earnings for 2002 showed “a significant improvement” compared to a net loss for the year 2001. “The improvement was mainly contributed by the gain on (foreign) exchange, a lesser impairment charge to the group’s fixed asset and cost reduction achieved all round in the year 2002,” a spokesman said.
Regional Container Lines recorded an exchange gain of Baht612 million ($14 million) on its U.S. dollar-denominated debt in 2002.
The carrier said that a 1-percent reduction in revenue for the fourth quarter was due to U.S. dollar weakening against the regional currencies, as the company’s income is U.S. dollar-based. The reduction was also partly due to freight rate erosion since the second half of 2001.
Regional Container Lines is a major feeder and liner operator in the intra-Asia container trades.