MSC Group: What’s driving profits?

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is believed to be the largest container shipping operator in the world and a major logistics service provider, yet remarkably little is known about the company. In particular the Geneva-registered company releases very little information on its finances. However, over the past couple of weeks some Italian media sources have begun to publish information on MSC Group’s results, possibly influenced by the company’s investment in Italian rail operations.

The newspaper Il Messaggero in particular asserted that the holding company of MSC Group had, in the Financial Year 2022, revenues of €86.4bn (US$91bn) with Earnings Before Tax, Interest, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) at €43.2bn (US$45.4) and Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) of €35.7bn (US$39bn). Net profit was €36.2bn. The numbers also suggest that MSC Group is cash-rich, holding €63bn in cash and with an estimated capitalisation of €91bn. Debts are €26bn. MSC Group has seen a considerable increase in revenue and profits over the few years, with revenue in financial year 2020 being €29bn with an EBITDA of €6.8bn, whilst 2021 saw revenue at €69bn and EBITDA at €40bn.

Of course, if accurate, the leap in revenues reflect the boom in the container market in 2021 and 2022. It is also important to remember that the MSC Group includes other large assets other than the container shipping business, notably the cruise liner business. However, the cruise liner business suffered badly in 2021 and most of 2022, so it is logical to suggest that the leap in profits and sales was driven by the container business.

It is hard to know what to make of this information. It is likely to be accurate and possibly it originated from MSC Group itself as a means of communicating to the Italian public that the company that is investing in a major element of its rail system is sound and trustworthy. Of course, such numbers are hardly audited accounts and cannot be analysed in detail, yet they suggest a company that has seen a huge leap in value and that can now command enormous resources.