Hapag-Lloyd, increased operating profit in 2018: On the basis of preliminary and unaudited figures, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to EUR 1,138 million (2017: EUR 1,055 million). Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to EUR 443 million (2017: EUR 411 million).
Both figures are at the upper end of the ranges forecast for the 2018 full financial year (EBITDA: EUR 900 to 1,150 million; EBIT: EUR 200 to 450 million), which Hapag-Lloyd announced on 29 June 2018. The main drivers are higher global transport volumes, steadily improving freight rates in the second half of the year, the merger with United Arab Shipping Company Ltd. (UASC), and the resulting cost synergies. For the fourth quarter of 2018, the EBITDA of EUR 324 million (Q4 2017: EUR 332 million) and the EBIT of EUR 142 million (Q4 2017: EUR 143 million) were nearly at their prior-year levels.
Revenues increased in the 2018 financial year by 15 percent, to EUR 11.5 billion (2017: EUR 10.0 billion), in particular due to the merger with UASC and the associated 21 percent increase in transport volume, to 11.9 million TEU (2017: 9.8 million TEU).
Transport expenses were primarily driven by strong volume growth and a significantly higher average bunker consumption price of 421 USD/tonne (2017: 318 USD/tonne), increasing by 18 percent, to EUR 9.4 billion (2017: EUR 8.0 billion), proportionally less than transport volume. At 1,044 USD/TEU, the average freight rate for the year as a whole was below the prior-year level (2017: 1,060 USD/TEU), with a better fourth quarter at 1,079 USD/TEU (Q4/17: 1,038 USD/TEU). On a pro forma basis and when compared to the combined business of Hapag-Lloyd and UASC for the full year 2017, the transport volume is up 6 percent and the average freight rate is up 2 percent.