THE sea of red ink deepened at Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) in the fourth quarter as liner revenue declined and freight rates fell.
The container carrier saw net loss for the three months to Dec 27 widen 51 per cent to US$137.18 million (S$173 million) from US$91.11 million in the previous year. Revenue fell 7 per cent to US$2.334 billion, from a restated US$2.499 billion.
The fall in liner turnover was due to capacity management measures, said NOL.
Still, net loss shrank sharply for the full year to US$76.3 million - 82 per cent less than the restated net loss of US$412.5 million previously.
The improvement was due partly to a non-recurring US$200 million gain from the completed sale of NOL's headquarters building in Singapore.
Continued efforts to improve operational efficiency and manage costs also paid off, garnering savings of US$470 million for the year.
Full-year revenue dropped 7 per cent to US$8.831 billion.
"The delivery of new tonnage last year added to over-capacity in the industry," said NOL chief executive Ng Yat Chung.
"Overall freight rates declined through the year, with the fourth quarter recording one of the lowest levels seen in the past three years."
He said the company put in a better financial performance despite the tough environment.
"We started the year with an improved cost base, which we continued to build on."