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Earnings

The world's largest shipping firm warns of 'considerable uncertainties' as trade tensions rise

Key Points
  • Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totaled $1.24 billion for the quarter, compared with $1.25 billion forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.
  • Maersk, the world's largest container shipping company, said it still expects 2019 EBITDA of about $5 billion.
VIDEO1:5701:57
Maersk CEO: Don't see trade tensions going away anytime soon

Danish shipping firm Moller-Maersk posted first-quarter profit close to expectations on Friday, warning that trade tensions and slowing economic growth constitute "considerable uncertainties."

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totaled $1.24 billion for the quarter, compared with $1.25 billion forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll.

Maersk, the world's largest container shipping company, said it still expects 2019 EBITDA of about $5 billion.

"We are still facing considerable uncertainties," CEO Søren Skou said in a press release, mentioning "the risk from trade tensions."

In the first quarter, "volumes on trans-Pacific trade between Asia and North America have shown signs of decline and new tariffs can potentially reduce expected growth in global container volumes by up to 1 percentage point." he added.

VIDEO2:1102:11
Maersk CEO: We had a good start to the year

President Donald Trump unexpectedly accused China of reneging on a deal earlier this month and announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25% from 10% on May 10.

Beijing retaliated, raising levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. products. In the last two weeks, the Trump administration also put Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that prevents it from buying from American companies without U.S. government permission.

Speaking to CNBC Friday, Skou highlighted that the U.S. also has an outstanding discussion with the European Union.

"If the Chinese-U.S. conflict is resolved then our expectations would be that it would immediately lead to a discussion between the EU and the U.S. So I don't believe that we will be done with tensions anytime soon, " he told CNBC's "Street Signs" Friday.

—Reuters and CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this article.