AP Moller-Maersk has upgraded its full-year guidance by 47% on the back of what it describes as a “exceptional market situation”.

The world’s largest liner company is now predicting underlying Ebitda of $13bn to $15bn, above previous forecasts of $8.5bn to $10.5bn.

In a statement late on Monday, Maersk said it expects to report an underlying Ebitda of $4bn for the first quarter and unaudited revenue of $12.4bn based on preliminary figures.

Maersk, which expects to report its first-quarter performance on 5 May, said the current market situation was expected to continue “well into the fourth quarter of 2021”.

“The continued strong performance is mainly driven by the continuation of the exceptional market situation, with surging demand leading to bottlenecks in the supply chain and equipment shortage,” the liner giant said.

The company said first-quarter container volumes increased by 5.7%, while average freight rates improved by 35% compared to the previous year.

Additional containers

Maersk also said it expected to boost capital expenditure over the next two years to $7bn — an increase of more than 50% from previous estimates — to provide additional containers to relieve the current bottlenecks and improve service reliability as well as fund organic growth at its logistics and services arm.

“The outlook for the global market demand growth for the full-year 2021 has been revised up to 5-7% from previously 3-5%, primarily driven by the export volumes out of China to the US,” Maersk said.

However, the company warned that trading conditions for the quarters ahead remain subject to a “higher-than-normal” volatility due to potential changes in current demand patterns, with the current disruptions in the supply chains and equipment shortages impacting the short-term container freight rates.

“The market was certainly expecting full-year 2021 revisions, but a 47% increase in mid-range Ebitda ... was a lot more than expected,” Fearnley Securities said.

“With ‘only’ $4bn of Ebitda in the first quarter, and Maersk’s history of guiding conservative, we expect earnings to trend higher in the second quarter.”