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Suspends share buybacks amid Red Sea disruption

Giant gantry cranes and off loading freighter in Haifa container port, Israel.

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LONDON — Danish shipping giant Maersk on Thursday flagged “high uncertainty” in its 2024 earnings outlook as Red Sea disruptions continued to weigh on the industry.

The company also said that it would be suspending share buybacks on the back of the uncertainty.

Maersk said it expected underlying EBITDA (or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) of between $1 billion and $6 billion this year, compared to the $9.6 billion recorded in 2023.

“The impact of this situation is causing new uncertainty for how this is going to play out from an earnings perspective throughout the year,” CEO Vincent Clerc told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe.”

“We have very little visibility as to whether this is a situation that will resolve in a matter of weeks or months, or whether this is something that is going to be with us for the full year,” he added.

In a statement, the company added that its board had decided to “immediately suspend the share buy-back programme, with a re-initiation to be reviewed once market conditions in Ocean [division] have settled.”

Global supply chains have faced serious disruption since late 2023 after major shipping companies began diverting journeys away from the Red Sea following a string of attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

The Iran-aligned group has targetted commercial vessels with drones and missiles in what they say is an act of solidarity with Palestinians amid the ongoing Gaza-Israel war.

This is a developing news story and will be updated shortly.

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