Kuehne & Nagel Falls as Transport Pricing Hurts Quarterly Profit

  • Third-quarter Ebitda fell, in contrast to estimates for growth
  • Sea-freight earnings per container fell while volume increased

Kuehne & Nagel International AG fell to the lowest in almost four months as earnings at the Swiss freight-forwarding company missed analysts’ predictions amid depressed pricing for transporting goods.

The shares dropped as much as 4 percent to 131.70 Swiss francs, the lowest intraday price since June 28, and was 3.3 percent lower as of 11:17 a.m. in Zurich. That dragged the stock down to a 3.7 percent decline this year, with trading volume at almost double the three-month daily average. Third-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 3.6 percent to 270 million francs ($273 million), counter to analysts’ average estimate of a 6.4 percent increase to 298 million francs.

Freight rates have yet to recover since the global recession almost a decade ago reduced trade, holding back profit at trucking companies and railways and prompting consolidation of shipping companies burdened by debt. Kuehne & Nagel’s sea-freight unit posted a decline in third-quarter gross profit per container even as cargo volume rose, while tonnage gains at the air-freight division were almost triple the increase of the unit’s earnings per 100 kilograms, the Schindellegi, Switzerland-based company said in a statement Tuesday.

“The company should be on track to match broadly our expectations” for cargo volume growth, but “the higher-than-expected margin pressure, especially in the sea-freight business, puts the earnings forecast risk to the downside,” Chris Burger, an analyst at Baader Helvea, wrote in a report to clients.

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