Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) has reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $149 million (Dh546.8m) and said it expects to report a loss for full-year 2009 because of the downturn in the global container trade.
The Singapore-based parent of APL posted a pre-tax loss of $45m in the fourth quarter ended December 26 as global demand fell sharply.
The fourth-quarter result includes $72m in restructuring charges.
Fourth-quarter revenues totalled $2.29 billion, a drop of six per cent.
Container shipping unit APL recorded a pre-tax loss of $84m for the fourth quarter and profit of $73m for the year, compared to earnings of $428m in 2007.
The company said conditions similar to those in the fourth quarter are expected to continue through 2009. Net profit for all of 2008 was $83m, 84 per cent lower than 2007.
The group's core pre-tax earnings of $213m fell 64 per cent from the prior-year period. Full-year revenue increased 14 per cent to a record $9.29bn.
"The results we are announcing today show the impact of a severe market downturn in the latter part of 2008, caused by reduced consumer confidence in the wake of the global economic crisis," said NOL Group President and Chief Executive Ron Widdows.
Despite capacity reductions, APL's average fourth-quarter global utilisation level was 83 per cent, compared to 93 per cent in the equivalent quarter of the prior year.
For 2008, APL recorded a five per cent rise in volumes to 2.47 million FEUs, with growth in volumes in the Intra-Asia trade.