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Pessimistic outlook for maritime transport firms amid weak demand
Vietnamnews - 11/7/2022 9:19:59 AM
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Container shipping firms are coming under great pressure from weak demand as maritime trade has begun to lose steam in recent months.
According to SSI Securities, exports to large trade partners, including the US and EU, continued to decline in September at Cái Mép Seaport and Lạch Huyện Seaport. 
Experts forecast that maritime trade would not reach the figures seen in previous years even in peak seasons because of retailers' high inventory levels.
For container-shipping firms, the situation is expected to worsen in late months of the year due to falling freight rates, which have slipped by roughly 20 per cent domestically since early 2022.
Analyst Phạm Minh Quang, BIDV Securities, estimated that international freight rates would continue to drop by around 12 per cent towards Q1/2023, caused by high inventory levels and high inflation. Domestic freight rates would follow suit with a drop of about 5 per cent amid a slow recovery of vessel supply. 
Analyst Nguyễn Quỳnh Hoa from MB Securities, shared this view, forecasting that maritime trade carried by containers would slow down in short term on grounds of weak demand.
However, the outlook for the industry would be optimistic in long term thanks to the improvement of global geopolitical conflicts, the easing of COVID-19 preventive measures, and the rebound of container supply.
Imports and exports are projected to pick up in the coming years as a result of the fully implementation of Free Trade Agreements and the lowering of trade barriers ensuing.
For the time being, many maritime transport firms are running at a profit.
Vietnam Ocean Shipping JSC (HOSE: VOS) made an after-tax profit of VNĐ154.1 billion in Q3, down 17 per cent against Q3/2021.
The firm said freight rates remained at good levels in the first nine month of 2022 despite a volatile market. It won several contracts to transport dry commodities at high freight rates during the period.
"Oil-powered vessels turned high profits from late Q2, contributing greatly to our total profits," said a VOS representative.
Apart from the profits generated by its own vessels, the firm also had extra earnings from two oil-powered vessels, Đại An and Đại Phú, chartered since late 2021. 
Vietnam Tanker JSC (HOSE: VTO) raked in VNĐ23.8 billion after tax in Q3, tenfold as large as the figure last year. 
A VTO representative attributed the boom in profits to "the increase in time charter rates and in coastal vessel activities compared to Q3/2021".
Remarkably, higher time charter rates contributed nearly VNĐ100 billion to its revenues and VNĐ25 billion to its after-tax profits.
Vinafco JS Corporation (UPCoM: VFC), likewise, saw its after-tax profits increase by roughly 51 per cent during the period. The firm said its profitability came from its better performance in transport and financial activities.
Vinaship JSC (UPCoM: VNA) also operated profitably with an after-tax profit of VNĐ63.7 billion, down 7 per cent year-by-year.
It is worth noting that several firms are stepping up seaport development to cater for higher martime trade in the long term.
Germadept Corporation (HOSE: GMD) is in process of completing necessary procedures to begin the construction of Gemanlink Port phase 2 this year. The port, with an estimated capacity of 1.5 million TEU, is expect to begin in 2024. 
Meanwhile, 50 per cent of the construction works in Nam Đình Vũ Port phase 2 has been completed. The port have an estimated capacitiy of between 0.6 million and 1.2 million TEU.
VOS stocks ended the last Friday session at VNĐ9,500, VTO at VNĐ7,200, and GMD at VNĐ48,700. — VNS
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