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February 22, 2024

Rough seas for Maine's only cargo shipping line: Eimskip earnings sink by over a third

port with ships and cargo containers File PHOTO / COURTESY SOLI DG Icelandic shipping company Eimskip docks its vessels at the International Marine Terminal in Portland.

Icelandic shipping company Eimskip — which headquarters its U.S. operations in Portland — posted 2023 financial results that show net earnings fell 36.1% last year.

Eimskip last week reported 2023 after-tax earnings of 54.5 million euros, down from 85.3 million euros in 2022. Revenue fell 22.7% from nearly 1.1 billion euros that year to 827.5 million euros in 2023.

The Reykjavik-based company attributed much of the fall-off to changes in its shipping between Iceland and North America. Eimskip handles a variety of cargo, including refrigerated seafood, at Portland and the Canadian ports of Argentia, Newfoundland, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 2022, Eimskip's trans-Atlantic shipping volume totaled 33,500 twenty-foot-equivalent units, but the total fell to 28,700 TEUs last year.

"The main driver behind lower income was the dramatic change in Trans-Atlantic rates that occurred over the course of 2023," said CEO Vilhelm Mar Thorsteinsson in a news release.

"It is important to recall that during 2021 and 2022, global freight rates surged in response to supply chain disruptions resulting from the pandemic. The only international trade lane that remained at an elevated level into 2023 was Trans-Atlantic, but as of Q1, we started to see the rates fall sharply and reach pre-pandemic levels at the end of Q3 before leveling off.

"This inevitably affected our results significantly in comparison to the record year of 2022 as a large portion of the operating cost of our liner system is not directly correlated to the revenues but based on the assets and infrastructure behind the sailing system."

Eimskip moved its U.S. port of call to Portland from Norfolk, Va., in 2013. The company has steadily increased its sailings to and from Portland since then.

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