Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd has unveiled a huge improvement in its profit expectations in 2022. The Hamburg liner operator expects to deliver Ebitda in the region of $14.5bn to $16.5bn this year. That is $2.5bn above earlier projections revealed in March, when Hapag-Lloyd forecast Ebitda in the region of $12bn to $14bn. The world’s fifth-largest liner company made the forecast after preliminary earnings for the first and second quarters exceeded expectations. Ebit this year is forecast at between $12.5 and $14.5bn on the back of soaring freight rates.

The revised projection comes on the back of an 80% rise in average freight rates in the first quarter this year. This lifted Ebitda to $5.3bn for the period from January to March, compared with $1.6bn in the same period last year. Transport volumes of around 3m teu were in line with the previous year.

Hapag-Lloyd’s decision to project an earnings forecast contrasts with its THE Alliance partner Ocean Network Express (ONE). ONE on Thursday reported record profit of $16.75bn for the financial year, which closes at the end of March. But the Japanese-controlled line refrained from making any projection on earnings forecast. The company deemed it “extremely difficult” to announce a reasonable business forecast for the coming financial year.

Hapag-Lloyd, in contrast, has been bolder in its predictions. “Based on current business performance, the second quarter should also exceed previous expectations,” the German line said. “In view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, the forecast is subject to considerable uncertainty.” Final figures for the first quarter of 2022 will be published on 12 May.

In March, the carrier is predicting a cooler market from the second half of this year, after logging huge earnings for 2021. The company expected momentum to remain at a very high level in the first six months of 2022. Beyond that, the owner anticipates that the strained situation in global supply chains will ease, which should lead to the beginning of a “normalization of earnings”.

The 253 ships benefited from significantly improved freight rates resulting from very strong demand for goods exported from Asia. Chief executive Rolf Habben Jansen has however warned of possible “curveballs” thrown at the liner sector that could be difficult to foresee. The average freight rate for the year reached $2,003 per teu in 2021, compared to $1,115 in 2020. Transport volumes were on a par with the prior-year level at 11.9m teu due to the strained supply chains.