TOKYO -- Nippon Yusen, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha are each expected to post a group pretax profit for April-June, the first time in seven quarters all three of Japan's major maritime shippers will have done so, in a dramatic recovery that reflects the health of the world economy.
Mitsui O.S.K.'s pretax profit likely tripled on the year to around 2 billion yen ($17.7 million), while Nippon Yusen's is seen reaching about 5 billion yen after a year-earlier pretax loss of 9.9 billion yen. Kawasaki Kisen also is expected to book a profit, rebounding from a loss of 22.5 billion yen the year before.
Demand was strong for container shipping between Asia and Europe. Shipments of garments from Asia grew, as did those of goods such as furniture and medical equipment from Europe. Asia-North America shipping was also healthy, and contract freight rates for fiscal 2017 climbed about 15% for both Asia-Europe and Asia-North America.
Bulk freight also performed well. China-bound shipments of coal and iron ore are rising thanks to an increase in public investment by Beijing. The benchmark Baltic Dry Index, which shows the health of bulk shipping, was up around 60% on the year in April-June.
In addition, cost-cutting efforts bore fruit. Nippon Yusen fine-tuned its orders so as to run its containerships with loads as full as possible. Mitsui O.S.K. ceased running its own car carrier ships on routes where hauls were light.