Global shipping outlook turns ‘stable’ after earnings peak

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The outlook for the global shipping industry is changed to ‘stable’ from ‘positive’ for the next 12 to 18 months due to demand slightly outstripping supply, according to a Moody’s Investors Service report.

The rating agency said the outlook change is driven by tough comparisons with the very strong cash flows generated this year, rather than a deteriorating business environment.

Indeed, business and financial conditions will remain solid, but they are unlikely to get better than they already are today.

“Earnings for container and dry bulk carriers are at record levels; however, we expect earnings to fall from their 2021 peak but remain high,” said Daniel Harlid, a Vice President – Senior Analyst at Moody’s and author of the report.

“Still, limited deliveries of new vessels next year will help keep freight rates at elevated levels.”

Demand for goods and commodities remain high and will stay robust in 2022.

Growth rates have most likely peaked and will start to decelerate next year. Record high profitability and cash flow generation have been used to pay down debt.

Moody’s added that capital spending of shipping companies will continue to increase.

“Therefore, Moody’s expects orders for newer and more energy-efficient ships to continue to be a theme during 2022, as shipping companies prepare for stricter environmental regulations that will gradually be phased in from 2023.”