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Morningstar Equity Analysts 09.02.2018 | 14:29

Shipping behemoth Maersk’s full-year results were broadly in line with our expectations, adjusting for the disposals of various businesses over the period, but fell short of consensus forecasts. A return on invested capital, or ROIC, of just 2.9% for 2017, up from negative 1.9% in 2016, serves to highlight the volatility in earnings for Maersk, and illustrates the reasoning behind our no-moat rating for the company. We do not expect to make any material changes to our forecasts on the back of these results and reiterate our DKK 11,400 fair value estimate for the stock.

Maersk Line, Maersk’s flagship business, produced EBITDA of $2,631 million over the period, up significantly from the $1,525 million delivered in 2016; however, this vastly improved performance still resulted in a ROIC of just 2.9%, far below our estimated 9% weighted average cost of capital for the group. While freight rates rose over the period, they came under pressure in the fourth quarter, and a combination of below-market growth and rising bunker costs hampered performance. APM terminals delivered a reasonable performance, with throughput up marginally year over year and a strong exit rate of 5% in the fourth quarter. Unit costs were held steady over the period, highlighting Maersk’s strong cost discipline. However, several one-off factors led to underlying profit of $414 million, down slightly from the $433 million produced in 2016.

We believe the new simplified business structure, with a primary focus on Maersk Line and APM Terminals, should allow management to focus its efforts more effectively. However, we acknowledge that both of these divisions are effectively price-takers and are thus at the mercy of market forces in the ever-volatile shipping sector.

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A. P. Moller Maersk A/S B8 232,00 DKK-1,29

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Morningstar Equity Analysts  Morningstar stock and fund analysts cover 2,000 mutual funds, 2,100 equities, and 300 exchange-traded funds.

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