Earnings position

In 2020, the development of HHLA’s performance data was strongly influenced by the global coronavirus pandemic. At 6,776 thousand , there was a significant year-on-year fall of 10.6 % in container throughput (previous year: 7,577 thousand TEU). This decline began in the middle of the first quarter and gathered considerable pace during the second quarter before weakening slightly in the second half of the year. From May onwards, the downward trend was intensified by the loss of an Asian service. At the three Hamburg , the decline amounted to 11.1 %. At the international terminals, however, the decrease was only moderate. Transport volumes declined slightly by 1.9 % to 1,536 thousand TEU compared to the high level of the previous year (previous year: 1,565 thousand ). The decrease was particularly noticeable in road transport. Compared to the relevant overall market, rail transport was able to gain market share.


in € million

Revenue (bar chart)

Against this background, HHLA Group revenue fell by 6.0 % to € 1,299.8 million (previous year: € 1,382.6 million) in the reporting period. This decrease was chiefly due to the trend in performance data. In the Container segment, the throughput-related decline was mitigated by a rise in storage fees. The listed Port Logistics subgroup developed almost exactly in line with the HHLA Group as a whole. Its Container, and Logistics segments recorded an overall decline in of 6.0 % to € 1,269.3 million (previous year: € 1,350.0 million). The non-listed Real Estate subgroup also recorded a significant drop in revenue of 5.3 % to € 38.1 million (previous year: € 40.2 million). The Real Estate subgroup thus accounted for 2.3 % of Group revenue.

Changes in inventories once again had no material impact in the reporting period. Own work capitalised decreased to € 4.6 million (previous year: € 6.2 million).

Other operating income rose sharply by 11.5 % to € 50.8 million (previous year: € 45.6 million). This is primarily attributable to subsidies received from the German Federal Railway Authority and a liability from a contingent consideration agreed as part of the acquisition of Bionic Production GmbH that was derecognised in profit and loss as a result of a new agreement with the seller.

Expense structure

Operating expenses in 2020: € 1,232 million

Operating expenses (pie chart)

Operating expenses increased slightly by 1.5 % to € 1,231.7 million (previous year: € 1,213.3 million). Cost of materials was the only item to fall largely in proportion to the volume and trend.

The cost of materials declined sharply by 5.5 % year-on-year to € 379.1 million (previous year: € 401.2 million). The increase in the cost of materials ratio to 29.2 % (previous year: 29.0 %) was mainly attributable to the only slight, and therefore disproportionate, volume decline in the material-intensive Intermodal segment.

Personnel expenses rose by 6.2 % to € 548.1 million (previous year: € 516.1 million). In addition to higher union wage rates, this item was also affected by additions to the restructuring provision in the amount of approxamately € 43 million. As a result, the personnel expense ratio rose strongly to 42.2 % (previous year: 37.3 %).

Other operating expenses increased moderately by 3.1 % in the reporting period to € 138.7 million (previous year: € 134.6 million). Among other things, this was due to increased third-party maintenance as well as necessary valuation allowances on trade receivables, especially in the Real Estate subgroup. The ratio of expenses to revenue increased to 10.7 % (previous year: 9.7 %).

Against the background of these developments, the operating result before depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell by 24.4 % to € 289.4 million (previous year: € 382.6 million). There was a correspondingly strong decrease in the margin to 22.3 % (previous year: 27.7 %).

Depreciation and amortisation increased slightly by 2.8 % year-on-year, amounting to € 165.8 million (previous year: € 161.4 million). This item was influenced by a valuation allowance for goodwill attributable to Bionic Production GmbH and the expansion of operations in rail transport.

Operating result (EBIT)

in € million / EBIT margin in %

Operating result (EBIT) (bar chart)

The operating result (EBIT) fell strongly by 44.1 % to € 123.6 million in the reporting period (previous year: € 221.2 million). The two main factors driving this trend are the restrictions on operating activities aimed at combating the coronavirus pandemic and the aforementioned addition to the restructuring provision for the implementation of a future programme to boost efficiency within the Container segment. The margin stood at 9.5 % (previous year: 16.0 %). In the Port Logistics subgroup, EBIT declined by 46.0 % to € 110.3 million (previous year: € 204.4 million). As a result, the subgroup accounted for 89.3 % (previous year: 92.4 %) of the Group’s operating result in the reporting period. In the Real Estate subgroup, EBIT declined by 21.5 % to € 12.9 million (previous year: € 16.5 million) and accounted for 10.7 % of the Group’s operating result (previous year: 7.6 %).

Net expenses from the financial result fell by € 10.7 million or 30.3 % to € 24.5 million (previous year: € 35.1 million). This was mainly due to income from the revaluation of a settlement liability for the profit transfer of a subsidiary with minority shareholders amounting to € 5.9 million (previous year: expenses amounting € 2.5 million).

At 25.2 %, the Group’s effective tax rate was lower than in the previous year (previous year: 26.4 %).

Profit after tax and minority interests decreased by 58.8 % year-on-year to € 42.6 million (previous year: € 103.3 million). Non-controlling interests accounted for € 31.6 million in the 2020 financial year (previous year: € 33.8 million). From a financial point of view, this item includes the results mentioned in relation to the associated with revaluing the settlement obligation to a minority shareholder. Earnings per share decreased by 58.8 % to € 0.58 (previous year: € 1.42). The listed Port Logistics subgroup posted a 62.3 % decline in earnings per share to € 0.50 (previous year: € 1.34). Earnings per share of the non-listed Real Estate subgroup were also down on the prior-year figure at € 2.70 (previous year: € 3.57). As in the previous year, there was no difference between basic and diluted earnings per share in 2020. The return on capital employed () was down 4.9 percentage points year-on-year at 5.9 % (previous year: 10.8 %). Corporate and value management

As in the previous year, HHLA’s appropriation of profits is oriented towards the development of the HHLA Group’s earnings in the financial year ended. The distributable profit and HHLA’s stable financial position form the foundation of the company’s consistent profit distribution policy. 

Against this background, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board will propose a scrip dividend of € 0.45 (previous year: € 0.70) per listed class A share entitled to dividends at the Annual General Meeting on 10 June 2021. In the course of determination, earnings were adjusted by € 43 million for the change in restructuring provisions recognised in profit or loss. As in the previous year, the Executive Board and the Supervisory Board will propose a cash dividend of € 2.10 to the Annual General Meeting for the unlisted class S shares. As in the previous year, the distribution amount of the class S shares would be € 5.7 million.

TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit)

A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.


In maritime logistics, a terminal is a facility where freight transported by various modes of transport is handled.

TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit)

A TEU is a 20-foot standard container, used as a unit for measuring container volumes. A 20-foot standard container is 6.06 metres long, 2.44 metres wide and 2.59 metres high.

Intermodal/Intermodal systems

Transportation via several modes of transport (water, rail, road) combining the specific advantages of the respective carriers.


Revenue from sales or lettings and from services rendered, less sales deductions and VAT.


Revenue from sales or lettings and from services rendered, less sales deductions and VAT.


Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.


Earnings before interest and taxes.

Financial result

Interest income – interest expenses +/– earnings from companies accounted for using the equity method +/– other financial result.

ROCE (return on capital employed before taxes)

EBIT / Average operating assets.