February 27, 2020 / 6:38 AM / in 3 months

UPDATE 1-Kuehne & Nagel posts 7.5% profit rise, to focus on Asia despite coronavirus

(Adds further details, outlook, CEO quote)

Feb 27 (Reuters) - Kuehne und Nagel International reported a 7.5% increase in full-year core earnings on Thursday, as strength in its sea freight, overland and contract logistics divisions offset a drastic drop in demand for air freight.

The Swiss freight-forwarding group’s earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) came in at 1.06 billion Swiss francs ($1.09 billion), slightly above the estimate of 1.05 billion francs in a company-compiled consensus.

For sea freight, the largest part of the business, the logistic company reported a 9.1% increase in EBIT. At 456 million francs, that was below analysts’ consensus forecast of 461 million francs.

EBIT in its contract logistics business, which provides services related to warehouse and distribution activities, grew 43.5% to 198 million francs, above the consensus estimate of 146 million francs.

From 2020 onwards, Kuehne und Nagel wants to focus on growth in Asia, despite the current economic uncertainties posed by the coronavirus outbreak, the group said.

“Setting aside the unknown scope of the coronavirus, the board of directors is looking ahead with confidence to the 2020 business year and beyond,” Chief Executive Detlef Trefzger said.

Last year, sales in the Asia-Pacific accounted for 11% of the company’s consolidated sales, behind both the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa), and Americas. ($1 = 0.9763 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski in Gdansk; Editing by Maju Samuel and Kim Coghill)

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