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Nippon Yusen K.K., Japan’s largest shipping line by sales, said it may beat the annual profit forecast at its container-carrying unit as rebounding demand allows the introduction of peak-season surcharges.

The company plans to add an extra $200 per 6-meter container on Asia-North America routes beginning as early as this month through September, Mikitoshi Kai, its head of investor relations, said Thursday in Tokyo. The company hadn’t included the levy in its profit forecast, he said.

Nippon Yusen, expecting the first profit in three years at its container division, has also returned all of its laid-up containerships to service as an economic rebound spurs U.S. demand for car parts, electronics and buildings materials. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the second- and third-largest Japanese shipping lines by sales, are also predicting a return to profit this fiscal year for container operations.

“All three operators are probably going to produce better than expected profit,” said Janet Lewis, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities (Japan) Ltd. “The key is whether they take containerships off after the peak season to maintain prices.”

Nippon Yusen had predicted a ¥500 million pretax profit from container shipping in the year ending March 31, compared with a loss of ¥55.4 billion last fiscal year. Mitsui O.S.K. and Kawasaki Kisen have also both forecast a ¥500 million profit for container operations this fiscal year.

“We’re optimistic that they will accept the surcharge,” Kai said about customers. “Space is tight. We should be able to meet our ¥500 million forecast easily and I reckon we will make more.” He didn’t give an exact estimate for the unit and declined comment on companywide profit.

The peak-season surcharge comes after Tokyo-based Nippon Yusen negotiated rate increases of as much as $400 per container in annual contracts beginning from last month, Kai said.

“We got an almost 100 percent agreement on the rate increase,” he said. “We were satisfied.”

Nippon Yusen has said it will cut ¥20 billion in costs companywide this fiscal year, including ¥15 billion at the container unit.

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