How Maersk dominates the global shipping industry

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How Maersk dominates the global shipping industry

With surging consumer demand, bottlenecks at ports and a shortage of containers, it's a tumultuous time to be an ocean carrier. Maersk, the world's largest container shipper, announced May 2021 first-quarter revenue of $12.4 billion, a 30% increase from a year earlier.
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Fri, Jul 16 202110:21 AM EDT

Shawn Baldwin, CNBC.com producer

The global container business is in chaos

Gene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles

It's a pandemic induced buying surge that we have never seen before.

Soren Skou, CEO, Maersk

We are trying to deal with a surge in demand which is completely unprecedented. Both a surge in demand because consumers are spending but also a surge in demand because large retailers stopped buying stuff in Asia in the second quarter of 2020 and well into the summer.

Shawn Baldwin

Maersk, the world's largest container shipper, has seen both higher volume and record profits. The Danish shipping firm, whose customers include Walmart and Nike, announced May 2021 first-quarter revenue of $12.4 billion, a 30% increase from a year earlier.

Maersk has a fleet of over 700 ships and handles 1 in 5 containers shipped by sea. The company also owns terminals around the world and has a growing land-based logistics business. On average a Maersk container ship calls on a port somewhere around the globe every six minutes. 

Like its competitors, the company has faced a series of obstacles in the first half of 2021 ranging from the worldwide shortage of shipping containers to the blockage of the Suez Canal. 

With vaccine rollouts in place in the U.S. and consumer discretionary spending shifting toward services, will Maersk and its rivals be able to maintain their momentum? And what do bottlenecks at ports and higher freight rates mean for U.S. consumers?