The nation’s three major container shippers posted stable growth in net profit for the first half of this year on the back of higher freight demand and rates, but said the US-China trade dispute remains the biggest risk factor for the second half.

Wan Hai Lines Ltd (萬海航運) saw its net profit skyrocket 328 percent to NT$1.73 billion (US$55.1 million) from NT$406 million a year earlier, with earnings per share (EPS) of NT$0.78, company data showed.

The increase can be attributed to a 15 percent annual increase in revenue to NT$35.67 billion and a 219 percent jump in non-operating income to NT$1.01 billion after the company sold some containers and one aged vessel, Wan Hai spokeswoman Laura Su (蘇麗梅) said yesterday by telephone.

Wan Hai, at which intra-Asia routes contributed 70 percent of total revenue, saw freight volume and rates grow in the first half as it faced less negative effects on its business in the region from the trade dispute, the company said.

As most Asian nations rely on manufacturing and exports to support economic growth, they depend on sea and air transportation to shift intermediate goods to other nations in the regional supply chain, it said.

“However, we are still concerned about whether the trade tensions will escalate and evolve into a full-blown trade war. It is difficult to forecast, with US President Donald Trump changing his mind all the time, such as his decision to delay a 10 percent tariff on some Chinese imports yesterday,” Wan Hai said in a statement.

Bigger rival Evergreen Marine Corp (長榮海運) reported net profit of NT$204.8 million for the first half.

It attributed the result to a 23 percent annual jump in revenue to NT$92.8 billion thanks to higher shipping demand and better freight rates.

EPS reached NT$0.05.

The company could have reported higher EPS if its profitability was not undercut by higher crude oil prices in the second quarter, a communication officer surnamed Chen (陳) said.

Higher oil prices raised the company’s operational cost by 15 percent annually to NT$85.69 billion in the first half, Chen said.

Evergreen has an upbeat outlook for next year as freight demand is expected to rise 3.1 percent annually, which would boost rates, Chen said, citing data released by research institution Alphaliner.

However, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp (陽明海運) was still in the red in the first half, although it saw net losses narrow to NT$1.94 billion, compared with net losses of NT$5.76 billion a year earlier. That translated into losses per share of NT$0.75.

The company said it has improved its operational strategy and would introduce more high-efficiency vessels to boost its competitiveness.