The blue box container shipping giant benefited from cost cutting initiatives and improving freight rates.

“We have improved our performance in the past year and we are satisfied with our result for the first quarter. Maersk Line is much more competitive and has gained strength to deal with the challenging shipping markets,” declared group chief executive, Nils Andersen.

The result was ahead of market expectations although the company warned that activity through the rest of this year would be subdued, reducing its forecast of container shipping demand growth to 2% to 4% from a previous range of 4% or 5%.