Annual Report 2023

Earnings position

HHLA’s performance data trended downwards in 2023. There was a 7.5 % year-on-year decline in container throughput to 5,917 thousand TEU (previous year: 6,396 thousand TEU). At the three Hamburg terminals, the decline amounted to 6.3 %. This was mainly attributable to declining volumes in the Far East shipping region, particularly China, as well as a strong year-on-year decrease in feeder traffic. Due to the suspension of seaborne handling at the Odessa terminal in late February 2022 following the Russian invasion, there was a sharp decline in volumes at the international terminals. Transport volumes were also down year-on-year by 5.4 % to 1,602 thousand TEU (previous year: 1,694 thousand TEU). In addition, there was a strong year-on-year decline in road transport. All main routes were affected by the moderate decrease in rail transport, in particular Polish traffic.


in € million

Revenue (bar chart)

HHLA Group revenue also fell by 8.3 % during the reporting period to € 1,446.8 million (previous year: € 1,578.4 million). In addition to the decline in container throughput volumes, this was due to lower storage fees at the Hamburg container terminals, which had benefitted from supply chain disruptions in the previous year. The listed Port Logistics subgroup developed almost exactly in line with the HHLA Group as a whole. Its Container, Intermodal and Logistics segments recorded an overall decrease in revenue of 8.6 % to € 1,408.9 million (previous year: € 1,542.3 million). Revenue in the non-listed Real Estate subgroup increased by 5.3 % to € 46.5 million (previous year: € 44.1 million). The Real Estate subgroup thus accounted for 2.6 % of Group revenue.

In the reporting period, changes in inventories amounted to € 0.5 million (previous year: € 3.3 million). Own work capitalised increased to € 6.6 million (previous year: € 6.1 million).

Other operating income increased by 58.7 % to € 73.6 million (previous year: € 46.4 million). Among other things, this item includes income from the sale of a commercial property.

Expense structure

Operating expenses in 2023: € 1,418 million

Operating expenses (pie chart)

Operating expenses increased slightly by 0.3 % to € 1,418.1 million (previous year: € 1,413.8 million). This was due to the significant increase in other operating expenses. A slight decline in personnel expenses was offset by a slight rise in depreciation and amortisation.

The cost of materials rose marginally year-on-year by 0.1 % to € 485.1 million (previous year: € 484.6 million). The strong rise in the cost-of-materials ratio to 33.5 % (previous year: 30.7 %) was due in part to increased electricity expenses for rail transport.

Personnel expenses fell by 2.4 % to € 556.7 million (previous year: € 570.5 million). This was the result of reduced staffing requirements due to lower container throughput and a partial reversal of the restructuring provision in the Container segment. The personnel expense ratio rose to 38.5 % (previous year: 36.1 %). In addition to increased union wage rates, this was due in particular to the expansion of business in rail transport.

Other operating expenses increased by 8.3 % during the reporting year to € 197.9 million (previous year: € 182.8 million). This was attributable to an increase in consulting expenses and higher maintenance costs for a Hamburg container terminal and the properties in the Speicherstadt historical warehouse district. The ratio of expenses to revenue amounted to 13.7 % (previous year: 11.6 %).

Against the background of these developments, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) decreased by 27.4 % to € 287.8 million (previous year: € 396.3 million). The EBITDA margin declined  to 19.9 % (previous year: 25.1 %).

Depreciation and amortisation rose slightly by 1.5 % year-on-year to € 178.4 million (previous year: € 175.9 million) due to the operational launch of new multi-system locomotives and the completion of a project development in the Real Estate segment.

Operating result (EBIT)

in € million, EBIT margin in %

Operating result (EBIT) (bar chart)

The operating result (EBIT) decreased by 50.4 % to € 109.4 million in the reporting period (previous year: € 220.4 million). The principal reason for this was the decrease in performance data and the normalisation of storage fees at the Hamburg container terminals. The EBIT margin decreased strongly by 7.6 % year-on-year (previous year: 14.0 %). In the Port Logistics subgroup, EBIT fell by 53.9 % to € 92.9 million (previous year: € 201.6 million). As a result, the subgroup accounted for 84.9 % (previous year: 91.5 %) of the Group’s operating result in the reporting period. In the Real Estate subgroup, EBIT decreased by 12.5 % to € 16.1 million (previous year: € 18.4 million) and accounted for 15.1 % of the Group’s operating result (previous year: 8.5 %).

Net expenses from financial income rose by € 19.4 million, or 73.9 %, to € 45.6 million (previous year: € 26.2 million). This change resulted primarily from interest rate-induced changes for pension obligations and other provisions, as well as increased interest rate expenses to banks.

At 33.6 %, the Group’s effective tax rate exceeded that of the previous year (previous year: 31.5 %).

The proportion of consolidated net income attributable to the parent company’s shareholders decreased by 78.5 % year-on-year to € 20.0 million (previous year: € 92.7 million). Non-controlling interests accounted for € 22.4 million in the 2023 financial year (previous year: € 40.4 million). Earnings per share decreased by 78.5 % to € 0.27 (previous year: € 1.23). The publicly listed Port Logistics subgroup posted an 89.4 % drop in earnings per share to € 0.12 (previous year: € 1.13). Earnings per share for the non-listed Real Estate subgroup of € 4.17 were up on the prior-year figure (previous year: € 3.93). As in the previous year, there was no difference between basic and diluted earnings per share in 2023.

The return on capital employed (ROCE) was down 5.1 percentage points year-on-year at 4.6 % (previous year: 9.7 %). Corporate and value management

HHLA’s appropriation of profits is oriented towards the development of the HHLA Group’s earnings in the financial year ended. On this basis, the Executive Board and Supervisory Board will propose the distribution of a cash dividend of € 0.08 per entitled, listed class A share at the Annual General Meeting on 13 June 2024. Subject to the approval of the Annual General Meeting, the distribution for class A shares would thus amount to € 5.8 million (previous year: € 54.4 million). The Executive Board and Supervisory Board will propose a cash dividend of € 2.20 (previous year: € 2.20) per non-listed class S share. The sum to be distributed for class S shares would thus amount to € 5.9 million (previous year: € 5.9 million).

Earnings before interest and taxes.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.
Feeder/Feeder ship
Vessels which carry smaller numbers of containers to ports. From Hamburg, feeders are primarily used to transport boxes to the Baltic region.
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.
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.

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