Container Segment

Key Figures

in € million


1–9 | 2015


1–9 | 2014









- 8.2 %







- 20.8 %

EBITDA margin in %






- 4.5 pp







- 31.4 %

EBIT margin in %






- 5.5 pp

At-equity earnings






- 21.4 %

Container throughput in thousand TEU






- 11.8 %

Container throughput at the HHLA terminals in Hamburg continued to decline year-on-year in the third quarter of 2015. Including the container terminal in Odessa, seaborne handling was down 11.8 % on the previous year at 5,027 thousand standard containers (TEU) after the first nine months of 2015 (previous year: 5,701 thousand TEU).

The decrease in volumes at the Hamburg terminals was primarily due to a drop in feeder traffic with the Baltic Sea ports, which was down 21.8 % on the prior-year figure in the period January to September 2015. In addition to the re-routing of individual shipping lines, this was primarily due to the decrease in traffic to and from Russia, which fell almost 40 % compared to the previous year. The feeder ratio saw a corresponding drop to 23.1 % (previous year: 26.0 %). The decline in container transport volumes on the Asian routes (Far East–North Europe) also contributed to lower container throughput. As a consequence, rail and truck throughput at the HHLA terminals in Hamburg fell in the third quarter of 2015; in the reporting period, it was down 3.2 % on the very strong prior-year quarter. Competition between the North Range ports also continued to increase.

Container throughput at the Odessa container terminal in Ukraine recorded slight year-on-year growth for the first time in 2015, rising by 3.6 % in the third quarter. However, total throughput volumes were still 5.8 % lower than in the previous year at 188 thousand TEU. Gains in market share helped soften the impact of the ongoing negative market trend in Ukraine. This was due in particular to the handling of direct services and the terminal’s high level of efficiency.

The strong decline in throughput volumes and lower storage fees compared to last year – due to shorter dwell times for containers – led to falling revenue. It was down 8.2 % to € 518.7 million in the first nine months (previous year: € 565.1 million). However, an ongoing change in the cargo mix – and the associated reduced proportion of lower-margin feeder traffic – led to higher average revenue per standard container handled at the quayside. Consequently, average revenue rose by 4.1 % in the first nine months of 2015 compared to the same period last year.

With a fall of 1.8 %, the segment’s EBIT costs were only slightly below the figure from the prior-year figure and could not be reduced in proportion to lower seaborne throughput. This was mainly due to personnel expenses. These were significantly reduced compared with the first two quarters of 2015 by curtailing the use of external staff, among other measures. However, increased union wage rates had the opposing effect. It is becoming increasingly difficult to adequately adapt the workforce as underutilisation of the facilities increases. Cost items with high fixed proportions also contributed to this negative trend. Maintenance costs, for example, were up strongly on the prior-year figure. Due to high capacity utilisation at the facilities last year, some of the maintenance work needed in 2014 had to be postponed to 2015. In addition, there was a temporary increase in expenses for the updating of operating IT systems. This development led to a 31.4 % decrease in the operating result (EBIT) to € 83.5 million (previous year: € 121.9 million). The EBIT margin fell correspondingly to 16.1 % (previous year: 21.6 %).