Shipping bellwether signals rise in global trade

Europe has a lot of strength: Moller-Maersk CEO

The global shipping industry looks to be in good shape, according to the largest container shipping company in the world by revenue, with the sector rebounding strongly from a deep economic slump and shrugging off new concerns regarding Russian sanctions.

Danish shipping and oil group Moller-Maersk reported forecast-beating net profit for its second quarter and said demand for container transportation is set to grow, enabling it to raise its guidance for the year. Container shipping volume also increased by 6.6 percent in the quarter compared to the same period last year, which was "very respectable indeed", according to Robert Johnson, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.

"It is a bellwether for global trade to a large extent, simply by virtue of its status as the world's largest container shipping line," he told CNBC via email.

Second-quarter net profit of $2.25 billion for Moller-Maersk beat expectations of $2.21 billion for the period. The firm's shipping unit, called Maersk Line, also performed better than expected. The company raised its 2014 group underlying profit guidance to $4.5 billion from a previous figure of $4.0 billion.

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Group CEO Nils Smedegaard Andersen said that results were "very satisfactory" for the first half of 2014 as the firm predicted that shipping revenues this year would be significantly above those in 2013.

"This quarter we have benefited from a pretty good pickup from the Asia to Europe trade," Andersen told CNBC Tuesday. He added that the company has managed its shipping container capacity better than the wider sector and has therefore been able to outperform the market.

Tensions surrounding Russia, which is feeling the effects of sanctions imposed by Western countries following its annexation of Crimea back in March, will likely weigh on Maersk's revenues, he said. But the CEO also eyed strength in Europe, especially Spain and the U.K. where structural reforms mean that trade is picking up once again.

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The company also announced that it has decided to buy back shares worth $1 billion within the coming 12 months.

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The new results come after a promising report in May when Moller-Maersk reported first-quarter net profit above forecasts thanks to a doubling in profit at Maersk Line. Shipping - often thought of as a cyclical industry - was badly affected by the global financial crash of 2008 with global demand slumping.

Moller-Maersk's continued good results highlight a return for the sector although the Danish company hasn't been without its setbacks. The company was due to complete a tie-up with French giant CMA CGM SA and Switzerland-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. but the alliance was abandoned back in June when Chinese authorities ruled out the deal with concerns of reduced competition.

Shares of the company surged over 4 percent in morning trade on Tuesday with Macquarie's Johnson calling them a "strong set of results", reiterating his "outperform" rating on the firm.