Bad Stats

On July 29th stockholders began receiving progress reports from container lines about the economic “recovery”. But by now, no doubt, those sophisticated investors are beginning to wonder whether or not the media – in cahoots with certain maritime officials – have been pulling their legs.

If ever U.S. shoppers are flush again and beating down the doors in places like WalMart and Lowe’s and Target, then and only then will a recovery begin. But it ain’t happening now. Look at these headlines:

– “Horizon Lines Lost $ 7 Million in Second Quarter”. So what, say the sheeple, $ 7 million isn’t too much. What’s the big deal? Well, we say, how about this next announcement?
– “‘K’ Line Predicts Full-Year Operating Loss. – Japanese ocean carrier reported $ 47.7 million loss in the first quarter of fiscal 2011”. So? That’s their problem, say the sheeple. No it isn’t, we tell them. Keep reading.
– “NYK Line Posts $ 91.6 Million Loss … in the first quarter of 2011”. Now the sheeple are beginning to pay attention. $ 91.6 million is a lot of money, they murmur … something just isn’t right. Now you’re catching on, we tell them. But $ 96.1 million isn’t the whole story. Another carrier saw even more money going down the drain. Look.
– “MOL Suffers $ 103 Million Loss … in the first quarter of 2011”. Stay tuned.

“Japan Big 3 suffer in April-June period” is how American Shipper summarized the backsliding.

“Japan’s big three container lines sustained collective operating losses of nearly $ 265 million in their fiscal first quarter ending June 30. ‘K’ Line’s containership business suffered a $ 96.9 million loss in its fiscal first quarter, compared to a $ 100 million operating profit in the same quarter in 2010. Container shipping revenue was flat in dollar terms, at $ 1.3 billion, but fell 7 percent in yen terms, due to the strengthening of the Japanese currency. ‘K’ Line’s revenue fell 3.6 percent to $ 3 billion, while the group sustained a $ 122.6 million loss in the quarter, compared to an operating profit of $ 260.1 million in fiscal first quarter of 2010 …

“MOL’s first quarter container shipping revenue fell 4.8 percent in yen terms to $ 1.6 billion, while the container-shipping division slumped to a $ 62.2 million loss from a $ 101.5 profit in the first quarter of 2010. MOL group revenue fell 12.1 percent in yen terms to $ 4.3 billion in the quarter. The group sustained an operating loss of $ 111.9 million in the fiscal first quarter, compared to an operating profit of $ 439 million in the same period in 2010 …

“NYK Line’s container-shipping business sustained a $ 105.7 million loss, compared to a $ 132 million profit in 2010. The company’s container-shipping division revenue fell 12.2 percent in yen terms to $ 1.3 billion. NYK group suffered a $ 126.9 million operating loss, compared to a $ 451.9 million profit in the fiscal first quarter of 2010.” –

The “recovery” the media talks about? As we said, it just ain’t happening.