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Group revenue increased by 1.5% to USD93.0 million for the first quarter ended 31 March 2019 ("1Q19"), from USD91.6 million in the previous corresponding period ("1Q18"), as revenue growth in the container shipping segment was partially eroded by the decline in revenue from the bulk and tankers segment.
Container volume handled in 1Q19 rose 2.3% to 324,000TEUs. In line with this, container shipping revenue increased by 4.8% to USD87.4 million, compared to USD83.4 million in 1Q18.
Revenue from the bulk & tanker business fell 52.9% to USD2.8 million in 1Q19, from USD5.9 million in 1Q18, due to a smaller bulk and tanker fleet being operated.
Cost of services rose 1.9% to USD90.8 million in 1Q19, from USD89.1 million in 1Q18, mainly driven by higher costs in the container shipping segment. The increase took into account the higher charter-hire costs and freight charges associated with a higher number of slot exchange arrangements undertaken in 1Q19. This was partially offset by lower cost of services incurred by the bulk & tanker segment in view of the smaller operating fleet year-on-year.
On account of the above, gross profit narrowed to USD2.3 million in 1Q19, compared to USD2.5 million in 1Q18.
General & administrative expenses declined 16% to USD2.5 million, taking into account a higher write-back of provision for bad debts in 1Q19.
Other operating income declined to USD0.6 million, from USD0.8 million in 1Q18, in the absence of the gains on disposal of vessels that were recorded in 1Q18.
The Group recorded a net loss of USD80,000 in 1Q19, compared to a net profit of USD0.3 million in 1Q18.
Cash and bank balances increased to USD41.0 million as at 31 March 2019, compared to USD28.8 million as at 31 December 2018. This was mainly due to the collection of receivables during the period. In this regard, trade receivables decreased to USD56.3 million as at 31 March 2019, compared to USD70.9 million as at 31 December 2018.
The container shipping industry is expected to continue to face headwinds in the year ahead, ranging from rising bunker costs, to cost pressures associated with International Maritime Organization's low-sulphur fuel regulations. Slower regional economic growth is also expected to pose challenges to the operating environment. This causes higher volatility of freight rates and complicates operating conditions.
The same concerns have also weighed on the outlook of the bulk and tanker sectors.
The Group has, on 13 April 2019, secured the release of Sinar Kapuas, its dry-bulk carrier that was detained in the port of San Lorenzo, Honduras, in November 2018. The Group is currently working to secure employment for the vessel. It is also ascertaining the financial impact arising from this incident and will provide further updates when appropriate.
The Group's 51%-owned warehouse joint venture in Port Klang, Malaysia, has begun to make positive contributions in 1Q19. The warehouse venture will serve as a base for the Group to expand its logistics business in Malaysia and other parts of Southeast Asia. The Group is currently evaluating opportunities to provide logistics services in Malaysia and Vietnam respectively.
The Group has also recently announced its establishment of joint venture in Indonesia in order to continue its participation in the Indonesian shipping sector. The Group will make further announcements on plans in this area in due course.
The Group will continue to focus on the optimisation of its cost and operational efficiency to reinforce its competitive position. It will also continue to manage its fleet prudently and efficiently.