Kuehne & Nagel International AG (KNIN), the world’s biggest sea-freight forwarder, said profit almost doubled as air freight and contract logistics units benefited from measures to raise profitability at the company.
First-quarter net income rose to 132 million Swiss francs ($142 million) from 67 million francs in the first three months last year, when the Schindellegi, Switzerland-based company also booked a European Union antitrust fine of 65 million francs. Revenue rose 5.4 percent to 5.09 billion francs.
“Particularly in view of the recessive economic situation in the euro zone, we can be quite satisfied with the results,” Chairman Karl Gernandt said in a statement. “The measures introduced to increase efficiency and improve profitability are working effectively. We will continue to focus on margin and cost management and are therefore confident to achieve further improvements.”
Subdued economic activity is weighing on shipping companies as Europe is struggling to overcome its debt crisis. Industrial production in the euro region has declined for 16 straight months, and China’s economic growth unexpectedly lost momentum in the first quarter as gains in factory output and consumption weakened.
Kuehne & Nagel increased container volume shipped by 2.3 percent in the quarter, undermined by declining business from Europe to Asia and “just” moderate growth in the opposite direction, while other routes saw volume increases of 5 percent to 10 percent. Growth opportunities will arise mainly in regions outside of western Europe, Gernandt said. Air freight volume rose by about 5 percent, compared with a decline of 2 percent for the total market, the company said.
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