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Box carrier margins collapse

Second-quarter figures show impact of rates rout

THE average operating margin of the 13 major container carriers that have published their second-quarter results fell to -9.2%, down from -5.5% recorded in the first quarter, as plummeting freight rates pushed earnings down to a level not seen since 2012, according to new research published by Alphaliner.

The weak performance is expected to persist in the second half, despite a recovery in freight rates recorded in the third quarter, following the withdrawal of Hanjin Shipping’s services in September.

However, these rate gains had already started to fall off, with carriers focussing on winning market share at the expense of pricing discipline, Alphaliner said. The onset of the winter slack season would put further pressure on freight rates as demand waned.

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