Stolt-Nielsen suffers losses

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Oslo-listed Stolt-Nielsen S.A. has revealed that it suffered financial losses for the fourth quarter and the full year of 2009 due to the continued squeeze on freight rates and increased competition, with the expectation for 2010 to be ‘another challenging year’ as the trend continues.

Stolt Tankers reported an operating profit of $11.3 million for Q4 2009, down from $14.2m the previous year, “primarily as a result of higher bunker costs and a reduction in deep-sea operating days,” according to the company. In addition, Stolt Tank Containers reported an operating profit of $9.7m, down from $13.2m in 2008, apparently a reflection of “higher ocean freight costs and increased price competition.”

With losses also felt in its subsidiaries, Stolthaven Terminals and Stolt Sea Farm, the company’s full year balance sheet was nevertheless stable, with net profit attributable to shareholders for the full year standing at $95.2m and revenue at $1,645.1m. In spite of this, however, the company is not anticipating an easy ride over the next year.

Warning how “the economic outlook for 2010 remains uncertain,” Niels Stolt-Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of SNSA, underlined how the conditions in 2009 are likely to persist. “In the fourth-quarter, results in tankers were held down by a surge in bunker fuel prices and our tank container margins continued to be squeezed by rising freight costs and keen competition,” he said.

“While government stimulus packages have helped to revive the financial markets, their impact on the fundamentals of global demand, production and supply are less clear. Therefore we expect 2010 to be another challenging year and we intend to continue operating our businesses in the conservative manner that has served us well to date,” he added.