Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk missed fourth-quarter net profit forecasts on Wednesday but said it expects a higher annual underlying profit this year.
The company, the world’s largest shipping company by capacity, has been one of the victims of weak global growth and trade in recent years.
However, Maersk’s chief executive Søren Skou is confident that the group’s container shipping business, Maersk Line, is set for growth of 2-4 percent in 2017 as the balance between supply and demand evens out.
“The fourth quarter of 2016 was the first quarter since 2010 where the demand outgrew supply, and actually by some margin,” Skou told CNBC Wednesday.
“We have hardly seen any new capacity being ordered since the third quarter of 2015, the order book of new ships being built is at a record low,” he added.
Research from the Baltic and International Maritime Council in September projected that 2016 would set the record for the lowest newbuilding contracts in more than 20 years.
“I think the supply and demand fundamentals are looking reasonable now and for at least the first three quarters of this year,” Skou said.
Skou is expecting a $1 billion boost to Maersk Line’s results in 2017.
Maersk group’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $1.50 billion for 2016 were short of the $2.01 billion forecast by analysts polled by Reuters. Shares sank 6 percent as the European session opened on Wednesday.
Revenue of $8.89 billion was also below the $9.54 billion forecast by analysts.
Skou told CNBC that the business will continue to be a consolidator but he sees “no new deals on the horizon” until it completes its takeover of German container carrier Hamburg Süd, announced in December.
“We have to close that transaction first – we hope to do that in the second half of this year having cleared regulatory by then.
“Until that time, I don’t see any new acquisitions on the horizon in our transportation and logistics business.”
However, Skou said he had no more to share on speculation surrounding the potential sale of the firm’s Brazilian oil and gas business.
Maersk also announced Wednesday that Chairman of the Board Michael Pram Rasmussen would step down at the end of March to be replaced by Jim Hagemann Snabe.