It is difficult to fully assess the performance of Schenker and its parent Deutsche Bahn, however the numbers suggest that Schenker is doing quite well whilst its parent struggles not so much with demand as profitability.
For the financial year 2021, the results released last week saw revenue rise 32.7% year-on-year to €23.4bn whilst ‘adjusted’ EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Depreciation and Amortisation) increased 41.2% to €1.8bn. This performance was largely due to the freight forwarding which saw revenue up 57.5% year-on-year at €12.96bn although there is no number for profits reported.
Contract logistics experience was respectable rather than spectacular at a 9.2% revenue increase. Road freight saw an 11.9% rise. The latter was on a comparatively modest 2.3% increase in shipments. The engine of the freight forwarding business was airfreight which handled 31.4% more cargo whilst ocean forwarding saw a 2.4% reduction. As usual for 2021, forwarders made their money on higher rates and, in the case of airfreight, charter services. The impact of congestion was universal across the different businesses.
The other major logistics business at Deutsche Bahn, rail freight, was not quite so happy. Although volumes carried were up 6.3%, revenue was up 8.9%, EBITDA recovered 68.8%, but the business still made a loss of €100m.The cost base still seems to be a problem, although why these cannot be passed on to customers is unclear.
Deutsche Bahn and its political masters have been emphatic that Schenker is not up for sale. However, the fact that the whole group continues to be loss making, with Net Profits negative by €900m with debts remaining significant, continues to suggest that Schenker’s sale may still have to be considered. Certainly, Schenker is profitable, however it is a good question whether its performance equals the very best in the sector.