The Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA (WW) maritime industry group achieved an operating income of USD 3.4 billion in 2008, up by more than 25% compared with 2007. The shipping and maritime services segments are the main contributors to the improved top line.
The operating income for the year totalled USD 3 434.2 million, compared with USD 2 727.6 million in 2007. Net operating profit came to USD 351.6 million, compared with USD 265.7 million.
Operating income for the fourth quarter amounted to USD 853.4 million, up from USD 740.1 million for the same period in 2007. Operating profit came to USD 134.0 million, compared with USD 58.9 million.
"A booming world economy, strong global trade and the increasing demand for maritime transport of cars resulted in record transport volumes and operating income for our ship operating companies in 2008," says Ingar Skaug, group chief executive of WW. "However, as the year progressed, there was a significant contraction in volumes in the wake of the grave financial turmoil. Consequently, cargo volumes for the fourth quarter declined compared to the same period in 2007. We expect a decline in car volumes for 2009, and although the short term outlook for high and heavy and project cargoes are somewhat down, we deem the underlying demand to be more stable."
With a ten-fold increase in operating income from just above USD 100 million in 2004 to USD 1 015.8 million in 2008, Wilhelmsen Maritime Services (WMS) is providing a continued strong and valuable contribution to the group's results. The operating profit for the segment in 2008 came to USD 85.1 million.
"WMS records a significant growth in operating income, driven by the increase in global trade and extraordinary high newbuilding activities," says Skaug. "The majority of its activity is related to ship operations, a market that historically has been less cyclical than the newbuilding market. However, the significant uncertainty regarding cancellations and delays at the yards poses a risk for WMS."
WW paid a total dividend of NOK 7 per share in 2008. The company's intention is to pay dividend twice a year. The board proposes a payment of NOK 2 per share in May for 2008.
The outlook for the WW group's markets in 2009 is highly uncertain. Although the WW group is operationally robust with wide flexibility to adjust the group's cost base, the WW board expects the global economic downturn to have a strong negative impact on the group's operating profit in 2009.