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Triton keeps eye on virus developments

Bermudian-based Triton International, the world's largest lessor of shipping containers, says it expects the coronavirus-driven slowdown in Asian shipping activity to continue at least until mid-March.

The company announced fourth-quarter 2019 net income of $77.5 million, down 14.4 per cent from the corresponding period of 2018. For the full year, net income was $339 million, up slightly on 2018.

Brian Sondey, Triton's chairman and chief executive officer, said Triton's performance was solid in 2019, although impacted by “soft global economic conditions and disruptions caused by the trade dispute between the United States and China”.

He had a cautious outlook for the first quarter, given that it traditionally represents the slow season for dry containers.

Mr Sondey said Triton was paying close attention to developments with the coronavirus outbreak, which started in China. The global death toll rose to 1,875 yesterday, with more than 73,000 cases reported.

“First and foremost, we are focused on the health and safety of our employees,” Mr Sondey said.

“Despite the challenges presented by the current situation, we remain fully operational. At the same time, we expect the current slowdown in shipping activity in Asia to extend for at least the next month.

“Beyond then, the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on our business is unclear.”

Mr Sondey said Triton had been seeing a pick-up in business during December and January, after progress in US-China trade negotiations.

Container utilisation averaged 96.9 per cent in 2019, Triton said.

Triton repurchased 6.9 million of its common shares during last year, or about 8.8 per cent of the outstanding total at the start of 2019.

Triton's board of directors announced a quarterly dividend of 52 cents per share.

Disclosure: the writer of this article owns shares in Triton

Virus impact: Triton International expects the slowdown in Asian shipping activity to continue for at least another month (Photograph by Paul O'Driscoll/Bloomberg News)

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Published February 19, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated February 19, 2020 at 8:24 am)

Triton keeps eye on virus developments

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