Hanjin Shipping announced a net loss of US$191mn for Q109 in May - below the expectations of many industry observers.
South Korea's largest shipping line, Hanjin Shipping, announced a net loss of US$191mn for Q109 in May - below the expectations of many industry observers. A statement released by the company on May 8 indicated that total Q109 sales were US$1,266mn - down by 39.2% year-on-year (y-o-y). The heaviest losses were sustained by the company's bulk carrier service, which posted an operating loss of US$142mn, while its bulk shipping arm lost US$35mn. Hanjin attributed the losses to falling shipping rates on a number of routes as well as lower cargo volumes, particularly on the company's key Asia-US routes.
Total container volumes transported by the shipper fell by 25.8% y-o-y during the January to March period, while bulk cargo volumes were down 29.1%. BMI believes that Hanjin has been especially exposed to the downturn within the global shipping industry due to its focus on trans-Pacific routes, which have been among the worst affected by falling trade volumes since the economic slowdown began in Q408. After considering the country's wider trade prospects, our newly released South Korea Freight Transport Report concludes that overall freight carried will grow by a reduced annual average of 2.1% in 2009- 2013. Despite the current financial turmoil, our five-year perspective is that the country will continue to have a dynamic trade-oriented economy, increasingly geared to opportunities in China. At some point in the future, the opening up of a rail link through North Korea will boost land-based freight routes. However, intra-Korean relations have become tense recently and we expect many starts and stops. South Korean shipping companies are facing a squeeze on margins. On the road haulage front the current national development plan calls for the construction of seven new north-south expressways and nine eastwest ones, part of the government's commitment to ensure that it should not take more than half a day to move people or goods between any two points in the country.
Bearing the economic slowdown in mind, we foresee that road haulage tonnage will increase by an average of 2.1% per annum in 2009-2013. Cargo traffic on rail, on the other hand, has dwindled in recent yeas, given that capacity has not expanded and the share of passenger traffic has increased. We expect rail freight tonnage to grow at an average rate of 1.1% during the forecast period. With high jet fuel prices and tough global market conditions taking their toll, airfreight tonnage will grow by around 2.4% a year. BMI has given South Korea a score of 55.7 (out of a potential maximum of 100) in our freight ratings index. The country's strong points are long-term political risk and transport infrastructure growth, with good scores for long-term economic risk and the regulatory environment. The total value of transport and communications GDP will rise to US$110.1bn in nominal terms by 2013, representing 9.7% of South Korea's GDP. The transport and communications sector employed 1.36mn people, or 6.1% of the labour force, in 2008. We see those figures rising to 1.39mn and 6.1% by 2013.