Matson has let investors know more tough times are on the way.
The Hawaiian container shipping outfit said on Wednesday that its net income for the last three months of 2022 is expected to come in between $69.9m and $74.8m, down sharply from the $395m recorded for the same period in 2021.
Its operating income from its ocean transportation segment is expected to be between $70m and $80m versus over $461m in the fourth quarter of 2021.
“As we mentioned on our November earnings call, we expected the fourth quarter of 2022 and first quarter of 2023 to be challenging in the Transpacific trade lane as retailers’ inventories adjust to consumer demand levels and as ocean liners reduce vessel capacity to meet lower demand levels,” chief executive Matt Cox said in a statement.
The company said in the fourth-quarter container volumes were much lower in all its trades, dropping 13% in Hawaii compared to a year earlier, 7.7% in Alaska, 14% in Guam and 10.7% in all other trades.
The greatest decline came in its China trade, where container volumes were nearly halved, falling by 47.2% last quarter compared to the final quarter of 2021.
The company attributed the decline to one less week in the earnings period and significantly less demand.
“Currently in the Transpacific marketplace, business conditions remain challenging as retailers continue to right-size inventories amidst weakening consumer demand, increasing interest rates and economic uncertainty,” Cox said.
He added that he expects difficulties in its transpacific services will continue through the first half of the year.
“Absent an economic ‘hard landing’ in the US, we expect improved trade dynamics in the second half of 2023 as the Transpacific marketplace transitions to a more normalized level of demand,” Cox said, adding that he believes the company will continue to earn a premium to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index regardless of the economic conditions.
The disclosure is similar to the one Matson made ahead of its third quarter earnings, though the declines expected for that three-month period were not as severe year-over-year as Wednesday’s fourth quarter forecast.