Hong Kong container line OOCL is looking ahead with guarded optimism after volumes rose strongly in 2018.

Net profit dipped to $108m from $138m as finance expenses jumped nearly $46m to $143m.

But revenue was up at $6.57bn versus $5.98bn, and operating profit increased to $263m against $238m in 2017.

Container liftings rose to 6.7 million teu from 6.3 million teu.

Looking ahead, it said: "We are cautiously optimistic about the global economy and the shipping environment as both challenges and opportunities are lying ahead."

Challenges include a slowdown in the global economy, trade frictions, high oil prices and the industry’s supply-demand imbalance, especially the overcapacity in some markets.

But the Chinese economy remains stable and strong, while the capacity growth of container shipping is tending to slow down, helping to ease the pressure on the supply side, it said.

New cooperation

The company was acquired by giant Chinese state owner Cosco in July.

OOCL said the two sides had cooperated closely to "explore and gradually to achieve synergies in a number of areas, including fleet and network planning, procurement, container management, IT, commercial co-ordination and marine operations".

The year was one of strong growth, with liftings up 8.9% in the Pacific and 14.5% between Asia and Europe, it added.

"For the second year in a row, this growth outpaced the volume growth seen in the market as a whole," it said.

OOCL's liquid assets were $2.2bn at year-end, with debt obligations of $501.9m repayable in 2019.