Washington D.C. – Government watchdog Accountable.US released a new analysis, first reported by the New York Times, finding that the world’s top five biggest container shipping companies all saw profits increase by triple digit percentages—or $40.86 billion—after raising rates in their 2021 fiscal years. Total profit of these companies now exceeds $64.25 billion. The report comes as shipping giant Maersk revealed in today’s earnings that the company had  “delivered the best earnings quarter ever” in the first quarter of 2022 after escalating its freight rates.

Maersk reported that the company’s revenue was up 55% to over $19 billion, earnings more than doubled to $9.1 billion, and it expects higher ocean shipping rates to “add approximately USD 10bn to revenue in 2022 compared to 2021” which will “more than offset the significant increase in costs.”

“Major shipping companies like Maersk claim their rising rates that get passed onto consumers in a big way were needed to keep up with outside costs – but that simply doesn’t hold water. Why would the industry need to raise rates so high given their profits are up triple digit percentages over the last year and as they shower their investors and executives in new payouts and new bonuses? It’s part of a larger trend of corporations across every sector bragging of record profits to their investors yet dubiously claiming they have no choice but to raise consumer prices,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “For the highly-profitable corporations that are choosing to pad their profits rather than keep prices stable for everyday families, our leaders should ensure they start paying their fair share in taxes.”

The latest report follows Accountable.US’ previous research over the last several months on how clear pandemic profiteering and corporate greed from big oil, meat packing, trucking, retail and railroad companies are making inflation/supply chain problems worse for everyday consumers.

KEY POINTS FROM THE REPORT:

  • Hapag-Lloyd credited “significantly improved freight rates” for its “exceptionally successful” FY 2021, when its profit soared by 906% to $10.75 billion and its shareholder dividends jumped 211% to nearly $700 million.

  • Maersk saw record FY 2021 earnings “driven” in part by high rates, with profits jumping by 192% to $24 billion in its FY 2021 and a new $5 billion stock buyback program in its Q3 2021.

  • COSCO Shipping enjoyed “a steep jump in average freight rates” while its profits leapt by 799% to over $14 billion in its FY 2021 and it went on to have “strongest-ever first quarter” in early 2022.

  • The president of Evergreen Marine said “‘I sleep very well every day. And I even smile in my dreams'” while talking about rates as the company saw its FY 2021 net profit jump nearly 881% to a record $8.4 billion.

  • Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) benefited from high rates in its FY 2020 and FY 2021 and reported that its FY 2021 profit leapt by 689% to over $7.1 billion while its board recommended a shareholder dividend of $4.99 billion.