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Hamburger Hafen Raises Freight Forecast on Far East Trade

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Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Hamburger Hafen & Logistik AG, the handler of about 80 percent of containers at Hamburg’s port, raised its 2013 volume forecast after Asian trade gathered pace and Baltic Sea traffic amplified.

HHLA expects single-digit percentage growth in the number of standard 20-foot containers in Hamburg and its Black Sea terminal in Odessa, Ukraine, the company said today in a statement. The transport company previously forecast that volume would be similar to last year’s level.

“This success is primarily due to the strong growth in European feeder traffic to the Baltic Sea and a substantial recovery in the handling of containers from the Far East in Hamburg,” the company said.

HHLA clearly outperformed its rival ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Belgium, and Bremerhaven, Germany, which all reported volume declines, Christian Cohrs, an analyst at Warburg Research, said in a note.

HHLA, which also operates land transport, real estate and logistic units, reported a 6.8 percent increase to 3.8 million containers in the first half. Earnings before interest and taxes at its container unit gained 3 percent to 68.8 million euros ($91.2 million). Trade with the Far East grew 8.5 percent, making up 43.5 percent of all containers handled in the first half.

Terminal Modernization

First-half group Ebit fell 14 percent to 81 million euros, the company said. The modernization of the Burchardkai terminal in Hamburg and flood-related losses in its land transport unit led to the decline, while a property sale inflated the year-ago figure, Karl Olaf Petters, a spokesman for HHLA, said by phone.

HHLA reiterated its full-year forecast for revenue of 1.1 billion euros to 1.2 billion euros. The company also said it expects Ebit at the lower half of its previously forecast range of 155 million euros to 175 million euros.

HHLA shares gained as much as 0.9 percent and traded 0.1 percent higher at 17.51 euros as of 4:15 p.m. in Frankfurt, valuing the company at 1.32 billion euros.

“The current constellation of high volumes and poor operational performance is substantially better than vice versa since home-made difficulties can be solved,” Warburg’s Cohrs said, adding he’s maintaining his buy recommendation on the stock.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Brautlecht in Hamburg at nbrautlecht@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net

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