Bunker Fuel Prices Affect Matson’s Earnings

US-based container carrier Matson reported a net income of USD 19.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2016, down from USD 26.6 million seen a year earlier, negatively impacted by a surge in bunker fuel prices and timing of fuel surcharge collections.

The company’s revenue for the three-month period ended December 31, 2016 was USD 519.3 million compared with USD 494.8 million reported for the fourth quarter of 2015.

Ocean transportation revenue increased USD 5.1 million, or 1.3 percent, during the fourth quarter 2016 compared with the fourth quarter 2015. This increase was primarily due to higher container volume in China, Alaska and South Pacific, largely offset by lower fuel surcharge revenue, lower container volume in Hawaii and Guam, and lower freight rates in the company’s China service.

“Matson’s core businesses performed largely as expected in the fourth quarter; however, the quarter was negatively impacted by the increase in bunker fuel prices from mid-November through December,” Matt Cox, Matson’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said.

While its full year 2016 net income dropped to USD 80.5 million from USD 103 million seen in 2015, Matson’s revenue for 2016 stood at USD 1.9 billion, up from USD 1.8 billion reported a year earlier.

Ocean transportation revenue increased USD 43.1 million, or 2.9 percent, during the year ended December 31, 2016 compared with the previous year, primarily due to the inclusion of revenue from the company’s acquired Alaska service for the full year period, partially offset by lower freight rates in the China service and lower fuel surcharge revenue.

“While our full year 2016 financial results failed to match the exceptional results achieved in 2015…2016 was a year in which we made critical investments for our future. We finalized our Hawaii fleet renewal program by ordering two new Kanaloa Class vessels and we expanded our Logistics platform into Alaska with the acquisition of Span Alaska,” Cox added.

Matson said that its 2017 operating income will be lower than 2016 due to increased competition in Guam where further losses are expected due to the launch of a competitor’s second ship.

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