South Korean shipping company Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) posted an operating loss of KRW 131.2 billion (USD 117 million) in the first quarter this year, narrowed from the previous year’s KRW 163 billion, according to the company’s stock exchange filling. 

Furthermore, the shipping company’s sales were up by 13.6 percent standing at KRW 1.302 trillion when compared to the corresponding period from last year.

During the quarter, HMM’s containerships handled 958,000 twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers, a 37 percent increase year-on-year, with markets in North America and Asia recording the biggest spikes, 41.4 percent and 62.4 percent respectively.

“Although the bunker costs have risen 59.2 percent year-on-year, HMM has improved its profit and loss status as its container shipping business has increased sales and it has focused on reducing costs,” the company said.

According to the company’s CEO Yoo Chang-keun, cited by Yonhap news agency, the company’s performance is expected to further improve in the third and fourth quarters of the year.

The results come following HMM’s recent strategic investments into new terminal operations and newbuilding tonnage.

Namely, just last week HMM reached an agreement to buy a 100 percent stake in Spain’s Total Terminal International Algeciras (TTIA), earmarking around USD 104.1 million for the stake in the terminal.

The company also decided to avail of the low newbuilding prices last month and ordered five 300,000 dwt very large crude carriers (VLCCs) from the compatriot Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) with an option of five more vessels.