Wilhelmsen sees record profits in 2008
The Wilh. Wilhelmsen Group on Thursday said operating profit increased 32.3 percent in 2008 to $352 million.
The company, parent of car carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen and American Roll-on Roll-off Carrier, saw net profit increase from $7 million in 2007 to $95 million last year. However, net income was severely impacted by fuel hedging activity early in the year before fuel prices dropped significantly. The company said the hedging activity had no impact on its cash flow.
The WW Group said it operated 166 vessels at the end of 2008, up by 10 ships from the previous year. Thirty-two more ships are due to be delivered over the next four years.
Driving revenue to a record high was a record level of cargo volumes on the group's subsidiaries, which also includes car carrier EUKOR. More than $2 billion of the company's $3.4 billion in revenue came from carrier operations.
'The past year was characterized by a high degree of volatility, starting with exceptionally strong markets for WW's operations,' the company said in its annual report. 'A significant shift in the market climate occurred during the fourth quarter, in the wake of the financial turmoil and the weakening in global economic activity.
'The record operating profit was achieved despite the downturn in late 2008, considerable inflationary pressure on expenses throughout the year, record bunker prices during the first nine months and pressure on costs driven by a tight tonnage situation. The group's shipping and logistics operations also handled record cargo volumes.
Increased bunker cost compensation in freight contracts was also important in combating the negative effects of higher bunker prices.'