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Japan's big three declare profit slump

Japan's big three declare profit slump

Tokyo: Increased fuel prices have been identified as the primary reason for a decrease in profits by leading Japanese shipping companies Mitsui OSK Lines, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha. In their third quarter FY2006 results released this week, NYK and "K" Line both declared decreased net income, while MOL announced decreased profit margins. Each of the companies attributed the decreases to a combination of high fuel prices, slumping freight rates and depreciation of the yen.

The biggest disparity in results - when compared to the same period in 2005 - was seen by NYK which, despite a 12.5% increase in consolidated revenue for the group, saw a 36.1% decrease in net income to 48.6bn Yen ($399m) as a result of high operating costs incurred by its shipping interests. These costs have led the company to release a downward revision of its expected full year performance with consolidated net income now at 65.5bn yen down from the previously forecast 68bn yen. The only sector to an improvement in the third quarter was NYK's container liner sector, which benefited from firmer rates in the Asia-Europe and Asia-Australia routes.

In comparison, "K" Line saw "slumping market freight rates, mainly in the Asia/Europe service routes" which, combined with the fuel prices, led to a 14.9bn Yen decrease in net income to 35.5bn Yen ($291.8m). However, the company has predicted a stronger performance for FY2006 citing expected firming of container and tanker rates, strong demand for dry bulk vessels and car carriers and more stable fuel prices. It added that the final performance would not be affected by the accident involving its vessel Mogamigawa, as damage and related expenses are to be covered by the insurance.

MOL has declared the strongest results of the group with a net income of 59bn Yen ($485m), a trend that seems likely to continue as it has forecast a predicted net income of118bn Yen. Although increased operating costs affected the company's profit margins, the company announced consecutive quarter on quarter profits as well as improved results as compared to the same quarter in 2005 (for the first time in five quarters). Although MOL also experienced a slump in its containership business, it recovered in the last quarter enough to remain in surplus despite lower profits than in 2005.  The company also saw improved earnings due to a strengthening of its Bulkship sector which saw the delivery of a large number of vessels.  [09/02/07]