Smoother sailing for Hurtigruten

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Norway’s coastal passenger shipping line Hurtigruten has reported much stronger results from its operations last year, compared to the year before. Profits would have been even better if it hadn’t been for stormy weather along the coast that disrupted operations. Investors, however, weren’t impressed.

Hurtigruten's "MS Trollfjord" leaving Trondheim last summer. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Hurtigruten’s “MS Trollfjord” leaving Trondheim last summer. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Even though Hurtigruten’s operating profit grew by NOK 83 million, it still ended with a loss of NOK 39 million. Analysts had expected better, and the shipping line’s shares fell 4.8 percent on the Oslo Stock Exchange after its year-end numbers were released on Wednesday.

“Hurtgruten put forth a weaker operating result than we expected, after the extreme weather hit its regularity,” Lars Kirkeby, a credit analyst at Nordea, wrote in a market update. “Cash flow from the operation was weak and led to a bit less-positive credit history.”

Analysts did recognize, though, that the company has cut costs and its quarterly loss was half that of the comparable period the year before. Bookings for 2014 are also running ahead of last year.

“We are satisfied with an improvement of NOK 83 million in results during a year with a lot of restructuring,” Hurtigruten’s chief executive, Daniel Skjeldam, told news bureau NTB. “We see that the revitalization of Hurtigruten contributes to lower costs, new sales initiatives and more vitality in the organization.”

Results in 2012 were hit hard by write downs in connection with the charter of the Hurtigruten ship MS Finnmarken to an offshore operation in Australia. Things improved in 2013 and passenger revenues along the coast jumped 10.6 percent during the fourth quarter, formerly a decidedly low-season period.

Hurtigruten, along with other tourism operations in Northern Norway, has been capitalizing on new international interest in the dark days of winter and, not least, a Northern Lights craze. The shipping line has also seen a 14 percent increase in sales for its cruises in Antarctica and to Greenland on the specially built vessel MS Fram.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund