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Freight and logistics stocks on the rise despite pandemic

Freight and logistics stocks have seen major gains since the beginning of 2020 even as the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy.

According to the General Statistics Office, the country’s exports topped US$254 billion during the first 11 months of the year, making for an increase of 5.3 per cent over the previous year, while imports were estimated at $234.5 billion.

Increased trade activities coupled with a number of international trade deals which were recently signed or came into effects such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have significantly boosted investors’ confidence in logistics stocks.

A number of stocks such as VSC, GMD, DVP, DXP, SFI and HAH have seen double-digit growth in recent months and some of them set all-time high records on the trading floor.

Experts, however, pointed out the recent rise in stock value did not necessarily come from better business performance but rather investors’ optimism in the sector’s future. For example, despite the increased trading value, Gemadept has reported a 32 per cent drop in profit in the first three quarters, Tân Cảng Logistic (TCL) a 15 per cent drop and Hải An Logistics a 9 per cent drop.

A container shortage, typically experienced by logistics firms during the end of the year when import/export activities are at the highest level, especially for an export-oriented economy such as Việt Nam, contributed to an increase in logistics costs.

A report from the Vietnam Logistics Business Association (VLA) showed more than 40 per cent of firms had difficulty finding containers for their cargo with up to 17 per cent unable to rent them. This has created a large backlog of cargo at port and storage facilities across the country, which generated additional revenue for logistics firms.

Meanwhile, freight charges have skyrocketed in recent months. According to Freightos, a Hong Kong-based shipping company, the freight charges for a 40-feet container from China to the US west coast has almost tripled to near $4,000.

Investors also seem to be betting on an increase in port charges as Việt Nam’s current prices were comparatively low in the region. A statement from the VLA said the sector has set an objective to bring charges to 60-70 per cent of the region’s price level by 2025, which they have planned to start bringing up at the beginning of next year.

VNS