Maersk shares jump 7% on container business profits rise

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Media captionRichard Meade of shipping journal Lloyds List: "We were generally expecting Maersk to be in the red here, if not just in the black"

Shares in Maersk Group rose by nearly 7% after it reported a big rise in profits at its container shipping unit.

Maersk Line, the world's biggest container shipper, reported a $439m (£281m) profit for the second quarter of the year, up from $227m million a year earlier.

It accounts for about 15% of the world's container shipping capacity.

But the group as a whole, which includes oil drilling and other transport businesses, saw profits fall.

They were down 11% to $856m, smaller than expected.

"We deliver a good operational result for the quarter thanks to improved performance in most of our businesses," said Group chief executive Nils Andersen.

Container oversupply

"Maersk Line has made strong and consistent progress and is now an industry leader in terms of profitability."

Analysts say the volumes of goods being shipped around the world is continuing to rise following the recessions that affected many of the world's big importers.

But speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mark Williams, research director for Braemar Seasope, a ship broking company, said companies like Maersk and its competitors had spent too much money on big new container ships.

"There is an oversupply in container shipping capacity," he said.

"Trade in containerised goods made mostly in Asia - that trade is actually growing and continues to grow out of the 2008-09 recession.

"Trade has been growing at a fairly healthy lick as globalisation continues, but there has been an overinvestment in the ships themselves, which means there is too much competition."

Maersk currently operates the world's biggest container ship, the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller, which was launched in February this year.

"There is always a striving for bigger, better and faster in terms of container ships," Mr Williams said.

"Ship owners are always looking for economy of scale and efficiency of movement."

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