The world’s biggest shipping company said Wednesday that 2021 was its most profitable year yet, with Denmark’s A.P. Moeller-Maersk bringing in US$18.7 billion as surging demand from a rebounding global economy led to supply chain logjams.
Profits before taxes soared last year from $3.3 billion in 2020, while 2021 revenue came in at $61.8 billion, up from $40 billion. CEO Soren Skou said that “exceptional market conditions led to record-high growth and profitability.”
In the last three months, revenue soared to $18.5 billion from $11.3 billion in the same period the previous year. Profits in the fourth quarter came in at $6.3 billion, up from $1.3 billion.
The Copenhagen-based company said that as the global economy began recovering from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns, strong demand put pressure on supply chains, especially in the U.S. as imports surged.
Skou noted that customers faced “chain disruptions and severe challenges” and that the record-high rates caused by pandemic-related congestion at ports, shipping container shortages and a surge in consumer demand drove Maersk’s record profits.
The global growth outlook is strong for 2022, the company said, “but risks are mounting for most regions. Moreover, it is highly uncertain if goods consumption will continue to drive up demand for logistics and container flows, especially when demand for services normalizes.”
The current market situation was expected to persist into the second quarter before easing later in the year, Skou said.
Growth in global demand for containers is expected to increase this year in the lower end of the two percent to four percent range, despite the strong economic outlook.