Letter to the shareholders
Ladies and gentlemen,
In an increasingly volatile market environment, business at Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG continues to make good progress. In the first nine months of 2019, the two main pillars of our business – the Container and Intermodal segments – both exceeded our expectations with regard to handling and transport volumes. This positive trend is reflected both in significant revenue growth and a strongly improved operating result. Against this backdrop, we are in a position to update our guidance for the year as a whole. We now expect a stronger increase in both container handling and container transport than forecast in spring, resulting in a significant boost to Group revenue and our operating result for the current financial year.
Making HHLA ready for the future remains our aim and mission. In our view, this includes an efficient HHLA that conserves natural resources for future generations.
As encouraging as our business trend is this year, we must still keep a realistic view of the changing conditions in which we operate. The long-lasting economic upturn in Germany is coming to an end. The German government and major economic institutes have lowered their forecasts accordingly. The reasons for the downturn are not just cyclical fluctuations but also the rise in political conflicts, particularly in the Middle East, with all manner of impacts on global stability and economic relationships. The ongoing trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies – the USA and China – is causing instability. Although there have been signs recently that the tension is easing, experts do not expect an end to the dispute any time soon. The challenges facing the entire transport and logistics industry therefore remain significant.
We are addressing these challenges with confidence and vigour, drawing on the momentum of our highly encouraging results in the first nine months of the year. Making HHLA ready for the future remains our aim and mission. This means that we will strengthen our core business and tap new, highly promising sectors.
In our core business, the focus has long been on optimising processes, further automating our facilities and boosting efficiency. We will redouble our efforts in these areas. Only by doing so will we be able to offer our customers the service they expect and require for their own success. For this reason, we will continue to pursue the investment programme launched in 2018. Currently in the pipeline, for example, are three new container gantry cranes for the Container Terminal Burchardkai and ten new multi-system locomotives – electric, of course – for our rail subsidiary Metrans.
We gave a further boost to our new business fields in the third quarter by acquiring a majority stake in Bionic Production GmbH. The Lüneburg-based company aims to bring 3-D printing processes to mass manufacturing, thus making the benefits of this technology accessible to industry as a whole. With its vision of creating components with only minimal use of materials and energy, Bionic will not only help HHLA harness 3-D printing to boost its own efficiency – the business model also fits our mission of using natural resources in a responsible and sustainable way.
These are also the aims pursued by the product HHLA Pure, which will be launched in the fourth quarter. HHLA Pure guarantees the carbon-neutral handling of our customers’ goods in Hamburg and their carbon-neutral onward transport by our rail subsidiary Metrans. By making this product available to our customers, we are adding another key component to our sustainable business model. For us, protecting the climate and our natural resources is an ongoing task which we are successfully tackling with the corresponding technological innovations. For example, this year we already exceeded our self-imposed target from 2008 to reduce the amount of CO2 emitted per container handled. We will continue to pursue this path. After all, an efficient HHLA preserving natural resources for future generations is a further expression of our vision for securing the company’s future viability.
Chairwoman of the Executive Board