After a satisfactory result in the first half of the year with a ROIC of 10.2%, Maersk Group was severely impacted by a widening supply-demand gap across most of its businesses, leading to significant oil price and freight rate reductions. ROIC for the second half of the year was negative 6.3%, impacted by impairments of USD 2.5bn after tax in Maersk Oil and for Q4 there was an underlying loss of USD 9m (profit of USD 1.0bn).
Maersk Line made a profit of USD 1.3bn (USD 2.3bn) and a ROIC of 6.5% (11.6%) due to poor market conditions leading to significantly lower freight rates, in particular in the second half of the year, only partially offset by lower bunker prices, USD appreciation and cost efficiencies. Revenue of USD 23.7bn was 13.2% lower than in 2014 (USD 27.4bn). The development was driven by a 16.0% decline in average freight rates to 2,209 USD/FFE (2,630 USD/FFE) and only partially offset by a 0.8% increase in volumes to 9.52 million FFE (9.44 million FFE).
The freight rate decline was largely attributable to bunker price savings being passed through to customers and to deteriorating market conditions. Container freight rates declined across all trades except North America, especially in Maersk Line’s key trades to/from Europe and Latin America. Recognised freight revenue was USD 21.3bn (USD 25.0bn) and other revenue was USD 2.4bn (USD 2.4bn).
To minimise the impact of declining freight rates, Maersk Line accelerated further network rationalisations and operating cost reduction programmes. In response to the weakening demand, it also reduced capacity by closing down four services and adjusted the network over the course of 2015. In November it announced its plans to reduce the organisation by more than 4,000 staff positions by 2017.
By the end of 2015, the Maersk Line fleet consisted of 285 owned vessels (1.8m TEU) and 305 chartered vessels (1.1m TEU) with a total capacity of 3.0m TEU, an increase of 0.5% compared to the end of 2014.