Seven out of the ten biggest carriers saw their operating margins fall in the second quarter of 2022 after lines were hit by a combination of tumbling spot rates, rising costs and weaker demand.
On average, the industry reported an operating margin of 56.3% for the quarter, down from 57.4% in the first three months of the year. The margin had previously ticked up in Q1 after Shanghai lockdowns depressed results in Q4.
COSCO, Evergreen and Maersk Ocean (the group’s container business plus limited terminal and bunkering activities) were the only top-ten carriers to report an increase in their margin in the latest period, with COSCO in particular posting a significantly better return than in the previous quarter.
The seven remaining lines saw a decline or effective plateau in their margins, with ZIM and Wan Hai Lines recording the biggest drop from over 60% to the low-50s. In a boarder historic context the levels nevertheless remain extremely high.