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SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's leading container shipper HMM Co. said Friday its first-quarter earnings rose nearly twentyfold from a year earlier amid high freight rates.
Net profit stood at 3.13 trillion won (US$2.43 billion) in the January-March period, compared with a net profit of 154.06 billion won a year earlier, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Sales jumped 103 percent on-year to 4.92 trillion won, with its operating income more than tripling to an all-time high of 3.15 trillion won.
HMM said its sales and operating income have renewed records for the sixth consecutive quarter since the fourth quarter of 2020. Its operating margin reached 64 percent, one of the highest among local listed firms.
The company attributed its stellar first-quarter performance to improved market conditions, including higher shipping rates.
The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI), a barometer of global freight rates, averaged 4,851 in the first quarter, up 74.5 percent from a year earlier.
Also responsible were a weaker local currency against the U.S. dollar and the company's cost-cutting efforts, the shipping line said.
HMM said it will ramp up efforts to secure prime customers and hone its competitive edge in the coming months, despite trade uncertainty stemming from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's COVID-19 lockdowns of major cities.
In particular, HMM said the company will focus on securing a stable source of freight down the road as it is scheduled to take delivery of 12 13,000-twenty-foot equivalent unit container carriers from local shipyards in the first half of 2024.
Shares in HMM closed 0.97 percent higher at 31,100 won on the Seoul bourse Friday, underperforming the broader KOSPI's 2.12 percent increase.