Wan Hai Lines Ltd (萬海航運), the nation’s third-largest container shipping company in terms of fleet size, aims to raise its sales this year by flexibly adjusting its line deposition, focusing on the North American and ASEAN regions.
Wan Hai was the only listed container shipping company in Taiwan to post a net profit for the whole of last year, mainly due to its focus on regional routes in Asia that showed steady growth in trade volume, as well as strong contributions from non-operating income.
As the global economy stabilizes this year, the shipper plans to boost its network coverage to more ASEAN countries and the North American and Latin American markets.
“Other than deepening the development of Asian lines, we may evaluate the possibility of launching new [long-haul] routes at the proper timing,” Wan Hai chairman Chen Po-ting (陳柏廷) told reporters on the sidelines of the company’s 50th anniversary celebration on Saturday.
Wan Hai shared plans last week to expand its Asian network with a 14-day line between Mindanao, Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan, set to start on April 22.
More than 80 percent of the company’s consolidated sales of NT$59.69 billion (US$1.96 billion) last year came from Asian lines.
Wan Hai outperformed the container shipping industry last year by posting an annual net profit of NT$2.13 billion, or NT$0.96 per share, up from the NT$1.85 billion, or NT$0.83 per share, recorded in 2012, the company said in a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange.
The increase in full-year earnings was mainly helped by strong results in the final quarter of last year, when Wan Hai reported net income of NT$1.25 billion, or earnings per share of NT$0.56.
The October-to-December figure was nearly tripled from the same period in 2012, when Wan Hai posted a net profit of NT$440 million, or earnings per share of NT$0.19, the company’s data showed.
Calling Wan Hai “a rare outperformer” in this sector, Credit Suisse analyst Timothy Ross lifted its net profit forecasts by 8 percent to NT$1.9 billion for this year and 4 percent to NT$2.5 billion next year to reflect better-than-expected results last year.
“We view Wan Hai’s management as some of the best in the Asia-Pacific business, although the industry may see another year of challenging freight rates ahead,” Ross said in a client note on Wednesday.
The nation’s two other major shippers — Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運) and Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp (陽明海運) — also posted a net profit in the fourth quarter last year, both on the back of strong non-operating income.
However, the fourth quarter failed to help them return to profitability for the year, on the effects of oversupply, which held freight rates at a low level.
Evergreen Marine, the nation’s largest container shipping firm, reported net losses of NT$1.5 billion last year, or a loss of NT$0.12 per share, compared with a net profit of NT$312.54 million, or earnings per share of NT$0.09, recorded in 2012, the company said in its stock exchange filing data.
Yang Ming, the second-biggest container shipper in nation, saw net losses last year expand to NT$2.95 billion, or NT$0.9 per share, from a net loss of NT$1.62 billion, or NT$0.5 per share, recorded a year ago, according to company statistics.