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Japan's 'big three' - NYK, MOL and K-Line - report higher Q1 profits

Japan's 'big three' - NYK, MOL and K-Line - report higher Q1 profits
Japan’s “big three” shipowners – Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL), Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK) and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K-Line) – all reported increases in profit for the first quarter ended 30 June 2015.

Leading the pack was NYK, which reported a hefty 321.3% leap in net profits to JPY43.07bn ($346m) for the first quarter of FY2015 compared to JPY10.2bn in the same period a year earlier. NYK’s revenues in the first quarter were up just 1.1% at JPY588.7bn, compared to JPY582.4bn in corresponding period a year earlier.

The much improved result came despite difficult conditions in the container and dry bulk shipping markets.

“In conditions surrounding the shipping industry, the introduction of new built tonnage in the container shipping business exerted extremely strong supply pressure, driving down spot freight rates on some routes to unprecedentedly low levels. Amid the generally severe environment surrounding the dry bulk carrier division, market conditions were stagnant owing to a decrease in lifting volumes bound for China,” NYK said its commentary on the results.

“Nevertheless, we continued efforts to improve profitability by decreasing costs through heightened fleet assignment rationalization and reduced fuel consumption. In the liquid division, market conditions remained favorable and performance improved over the previous fiscal year.”

The next biggest improvement in Q1 profit came from K-Line, with more than a doubling to JPY10.19bn ($83.25m) compared to JPY4.28bn in the same period in FY2014. K-Line reported revenues of JPY335.46bn in the first quarter FY2015 up from JPY319.79bn a year earlier.

K-Line credited costs saving measures as a major factor behind the improved result. “In the business environment for shipping there were some negative factors, such as declines in market conditions in the containership and dry bulk business. However, as a resul of slow steaming and other ongoing cost saving along with the effect of the recovery of the oil tanker market, the Yen’s further depreciation, and the decline in oil prices, business performance improved year-on-year,” K-Line commented.

The smallest rise in first quarter FY2015 profit came from MOL which reported a profit of JPY12.78bn ($104.3m) up from JPY8.51bn a year earlier. Revenues in the first quarter were up marginally at JPY449.43bn compared to JPY443.91bn in first quarter FY2014.

Commenting on business conditions in the first quarter MOL said: “Looking at the maritime shipping market conditions, the dry bulker market remained weak, although shipment volumes of iron ore from Western Australia were firm, due to factors such as weak growth in cargo volumes of iron ore for long-distance transport from Brazil, and a decline in the volume of coal imports into China.

“The crude oil tanker market was strong as the ocean transport was stimulated by growth in actual demand and an increase in the nations’ strategic petroleum reserves due to lower crude oil prices. The containership market remained weak as the Asia-Europe route and other routes were affected by weak cargo volumes and the gap between vessel supply and demand resulting from deliveries of large containerships expanded.”