Danish shipping and oil giant Moller-Maersk announces 2008 profits

Danish shipping and oil giant Moller-Maersk announces 2008 profits Copenhagen - Danish shipping and oil giant Moller-Maersk announced Thursday increased profits and turnover for 2008, but warned of "strong uncertainty" ahead.

Earnings for the AP Moller-Maersk group before interest, taxes and amortization were 16.5 billion dollars, compared with 11.9 billion dollars in 2007, according to its annual report.

Turnover increased from 51.2 billion dollars to 61.2 billion dollars, generating a net profit of 3.5 billion dollars.

The group encompasses container shipping, tankers, coasters, offshore, oil and gas activities, retail and shipyards.

However, specific earnings from sales of ships and oil rigs dropped from 1.1 billion dollars to 900 million dollars.

Although the key container vessel activities "improved considerably" compared with 2007, profit was impacted by the global economic slowdown in the second half of
2008, the group said.

Commercial banking group Danske Bank, where the group has a 20- per-cent stake, was also hit by the slowdown and credit crunch, posting writedowns on loans.

Oil exploration expenditure doubled in 2008 to 831 million dollars

In its outlook for 2009, the group cited "strong uncertainty" but predicted a lower profit after tax compared to 2008 which was 2.6 billion dollars, excluding gains on sales of ships and rigs.

In January 2009, the container market suffered "an unprecedented drop" of 20 per cent in transported volumes, the group said.

The group employs some 120,000 people worldwide. Dividend was proposed to remain at 650 kroner (109 dollars) per share. (dpa)