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Matson warns of COVID-19’s impact on its business

Honolulu-based ocean cargo carrier Matson Inc. said Tuesday that the COVID-19 virus outbreak concentrated in China could have a $15 million impact on its finances this year, though gains from operating new more efficient ships in Hawaii are expected to offset a drag in its China service and help keep profit in line with last year.

Matson provided the outlook for the year in a report on its 2019 finances released Tuesday.

The company earned $82.7 million last year, a 24% reduction from $109 million the year before. The decrease was partly the result of a 1.4% dip in Hawaii container volume and reduced performance from a stevedoring and terminal services joint venture at several West Coast ports, while container service in two other major markets, China and Alaska, was solid.

Matson generated $2.203 billion in revenue last year, down 1%, or $20 million, from $2.223 billion the year before.

This year, Matson projects overall higher cargo volume in part from Hawaii despite challenging conditions with its China service. Matson said it expects negative impacts related to COVID-19 in the first half of this year, and that its China service in the second half of this year should be in line with the “strong performance” achieved in the second half of last year, resulting in modestly lower volume and stable rates for the whole year. The company also said the magnitude and timing of impacts related to COVID-19 “could change as the situation evolves.”

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