Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Freight demand spurs Evergreen Marine Q2 profit

BLOOMBERG

Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運), Asia's largest container shipping company by fleet size, had a second-quarter profit from carrying more Chinese toys, appliances and other manufacturing exports to Europe and North America.

Net income was NT$2.7 billion (US$79 million) in the three months ended June 30, compared with an NT$41.3 billion loss in the same period last year.

Second-quarter sales rose 19 percent from a year ago to NT$10 billion.

Like Hong Kong's Orient Overseas International Ltd and other container shippers, Evergreen Marine is benefiting from rising demand for Chinese exports of toys, furniture and other goods.

In the last quarter, shipments from China rose by almost half, leading to a one-third increase in freight rates on routes between North America and Asia.

"There's no sign of a slowdown for Evergreen," Peter Tzeng, a transportation analyst with Polaris Securities Co (寶來證券), said before the release of the earnings. "The company is fully using its capacity for routes to the US and Europe in the third quarter." He has a rating of "equal weight" on the stock.

On the TAIEX, Evergreen Marine's shares fell almost 1 percent to NT$30.9, before its financial results were announced. The stock's price has risen 4.4 percent this year, performing better than the benchmark TAIEX, which slumped 2.1 percent in the same period.

Evergreen Marine has 120 vessels, which together can carry 330,000 containers. Shipments from China to North America and Europe use about 60 percent of Evergreen Marine's capacity, according to Tzeng.

Evergreen Marine's earnings are expected to increase in the third quarter as US retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc ship goods for the Christmas holidays, analysts said.

The shipping company's net income may more than double this year to NT$7.46 billion, Evergreen Marine said in April.

For the first six months of the year, Evergreen Marine's profit surged 20-fold to NT$4.6 billion, or NT$2.03 a share, from last year's NT$228 million, or NT$0.10 a share.

Sales rose 17.8 percent during the six-month period to NT$19.2 billion, Evergreen Marine said.

Teddy Tsai, an analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co, changed his rating on Evergreen Marine to "neutral" from "buy" in July, citing greater capacity in the industry in the future.

The number of container ships worldwide will increase by 12 percent in 2005, according to London-based ship broker Clarkson Plc, outstripping growth in demand that Drewry Shipping estimates will expand 9 percent.

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