Hamburger Hafen Container Volume Increases on Asian Trade

Hamburger Hafen & Logistik AG, the handler of about three in four containers at Hamburg’s port, said first-quarter volume rose as traffic from the Far East grew, while warning that the crisis in Ukraine may hurt results.

Volume increased 2.4 percent to 1.9 million standard containers, or TEUs, the Hamburg-based terminal operator said in a statement today. Far East cargo volume grew 8.1 percent in Hamburg, while traffic on the European and American shipping routes stagnated, the company said.

“The sound growth in Asia traffic is something that HHLA can draw hope from,” Jochen Rothenbacher, an analyst at Equinet Bank AG in Frankfurt, said by phone. HHLA shares gained as much as 3.4 percent to 18.16 euros, the highest intraday price in almost six weeks. The stock was up 1.6 percent at 17.85 euros at 11:08 a.m. in Frankfurt.

Hamburg, Europe’s second-biggest container port, competes with other northern cities such as Rotterdam and Antwerp, Belgium, for traffic from Asia, particularly China, Hamburg’s biggest trading partner. Russia is the German city’s second-biggest counterpart because the port serves as a transfer hub with containers from deep-sea ships from Asia moved to smaller feeder vessels destined for the Baltic Sea.

Economic Sanctions

HHLA, which also runs a container terminal in the Ukrainian port of Odessa, warned that economic sanctions “may have a temporary adverse effect on seaborne transportation” to and from Russia and that the crisis in Ukraine may harm its results in the full year.

While the fall in volume in Odessa in the first quarter was “only partly attributable to the political crisis,” a slide in the value of the hryvnia led to 4.8 million euros ($6.6 million) in additional cost, the company said.

The currency effect contributed to a 27 percent fall in net income to 10.5 million euros for the group and a 33 percent decline in earnings per share to 12 cents at the listed port logistics unit, which includes HHLA’s terminal business, it said.

HHLA reiterated that matching last year’s earnings in 2014 remains “an ambitious target,” while sticking to its forecast of earnings before interest and taxes of 138 million euros to 158 million euros. Ebit at the group rose 4.8 percent to 39.3 million euros in the quarter and revenue rose 6.8 percent to 293.5 million euros. HHLA expects a slight increase in sales and in container throughput in the full year, it said.

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