SWISS forwarding giant Kuehne + Nagel's net profit fell 14.2 per cent to CHF133 million (US$145.6 million) in 2011, having been slashed by an EU antitrust fine of CHF65 million, which led to "unsatisfactory financial results in the first quarter", the company conceded.
"Nevertheless, we achieved growth above market average," declared Kuehne + Nagel International CEO Reinhard Lange.
First quarter revenues were stable year on year at CHF4.83 billion, sustained by a 5.4 per cent year on year increase in freight volume being outweighed by cost increases and lower margins in the forwarding business worldwide.
"In the first quarter, we had to cope with a number of adverse factors," Mr Lange said. "Our investments resulted in cost increases. Profit margins declined in sea and air freight. In addition, there are one-off charges due to a high antitrust fine," he said.
But he added: "We will counteract this trend with strict cost control and measures to improve productivity. In addition, there are one-off charges due to a high antitrust fine.
Kuehne + Nagel container volume increased nine per cent while the global grew between three and four per cent, the company said. Kuehne + Nagel also increased growth in the transatlantic and transpacific trades.
Despite a decline in air freight in the first three months of the year, Kuehne + Nagel raised tonnage four per cent. Besides the ongoing positive demand in South America, the intra-Asia business developed well and volumes increased in the trades from Asia-Pacific to the Middle East, partly due to the acquisition of an Australian company specialised in perishables logistics.
Investments in growth initiatives and IT resulted in a decline of the EBITDA to-gross profit margin from 32.3 per cent to 26.5 per cent. At CHF 54 million, EBITDA was 14.3 per cent below the previous year. Due to the antitrust fine a loss of CHF11 million was recorded.
Kuehne + Nagel employs 63,000 at more than 1,000 locations in more than 100 countries.