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Maersk shipshape amid 'slow moving' economy

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The chief executive of oil and shipping giant Moller-Maersk - which reported earnings that beat forecasts Wednesday - told CNBC that overcapacity continues to dog the shipping industry amid slow-moving economic growth.

"If you look at the profitability of the container industry over the last five years...most companies have been lossmaking," Nils S. Andersen told CNBC Wednesday.

"(But) we see the chance of making money in the industry in being more competitive and giving the customers a better offer than our competition. The last year has given us very good profits, but the situation in the industry I regard as relatively stable, it's just not very attractive."

Maersk, a Danish company, is seen something of a bellwether of global trade as its ships make up 15 percent of world container shipping capacity.
Anderson said the company estimated global trade growth of only 1 percent in the first quarter of 2015, on the same period last year, which indicated "a pretty slow-moving economy."

The figure was helped by income from the sale of a stake in Danske Bank , the country's largest lender, but lower oil prices weighed on the firm's oil production unit. Shares of the company fell 3 percent after the results Wednesday morning.

He added that the company still had plans to reduce costs by around 20 percent until the end of 2016. It expects a full-year underlying profit of around $4 billion, a slight upgrade from its earlier guidance for "slightly below" $4 billion.

Revenues fell in the quarter to $10.5 billion from $11.7 billion a year ago, slightly below expectations of $10.9 billion.

The shipping industry has been dogged by overcapacity issues in the last few years as the global economic downturn hit demand for freight.

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