Marine Support Services

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 2,000 marine support services firms in the US include companies that operate ports, harbors, and canals, as well as companies that provide marine cargo handling and storage services. The industry also includes companies providing navigational services, such as piloting or tugboat services, and marine salvaging services.

Dependence on International Trade

Revenue for marine support services is driven by US imports and exports, which in turn depend on global economic conditions and international trade agreements.

Automation of Operations

As cargo volumes increase and ships get larger, marine terminal operators face challenges in quickly loading and unloading cargo to avoid congestion and delays for shippers, truckers and railcar operators.

Industry size & Structure

The average marine support services company operates out of a single location, employs 41-42 workers, and generates $11-12 million annually.

    • The marine support services industry consists of about 2,000 firms employing 84,800 workers and generating around $20.5 billion annually.
    • About 350 commercial ports in the US and its territories handle 2-3 billion gross tons of cargo annually.
    • About 41% of industry establishments provide navigation services, while 13% provide marine cargo handling services and 13% provide port operations services.
    • The top US ports, based on volume of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled include Houston, New York/New Jersey, New Orleans, Long Beach, Port of Virginia, Charleston, Miami, Seattle, and Los Angeles.
    • The industry is concentrated, with the 50 largest firms accounting for 67% of industry revenue.
    • Large companies include Ports America, APM Terminals (headquartered in the Netherlands), and SSA Marine.
                              Industry Forecast
                              Marine Support Services Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              Dec 2, 2022 - Diesel Price Remains High
                              • Gasoline prices have decreased significantly from the highs of mid-2022, but diesel prices are falling at a much slower pace. The national average for regular gas was only up 8 cents year over year on December 1. Diesel was $1.51 higher year over year on December 1. Experts say that winter weather is playing a key role in keeping diesel prices elevated. The oils used in heating buildings are very similar to diesel. More of these oils are diverted to heating as the temperature drops, so there is less diesel on the market.
                              • World trade in goods is likely to slow more in 2023 than previously expected, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Slowing demand in the West and China's economic struggles, driven largely by increasing bad debt levels related mostly to the real estate sector and to continuance of its Zero COVID policy, are weighing on imports and exports. The WTO lowered its forecast for global economic growth in 2023 to 2.3% from 3.3% and warned of an even steeper drop if central banks raise their key interest rates more than expected. A United Nations agency said in early October that raising interest rates to fight inflation could inflict worse damage globally than the financial crisis in 2008 and the COVID-19 shock in 2020. The WTO also noted several long-term trends affecting international trade, including de-globalization — a reversal of decades of ever-closer economic integration, that accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic.
                              • Demand for freight transportation may decrease as retailers including Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Best Buy report that they are coping with an unexpected glut of casual clothes, kitchen appliances, and electronics. Consumers have pivoted away from spending on goods while the highest inflation in decades has crimped household budgets. Retailers are cutting prices and canceling orders to cope with excess stocks, according to Chris Caplice, executive director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics.
                              • Marine support services are likely to be affected by changing consumer demand that has resulted in overstocking by retailers of some products. Some Americans, mainly high-earners, are reallocating their spending to experiences, says Kayla Bruun, an economic analyst with Morning Consult. Travel demand, for example, has sky-rocketed as travel restrictions become more lax. "There is a shift away from goods and to services, which is more Covid-related," she says. "People were locked down during the pandemic and they were spending more income on things around the home and now they prefer to spend their discretionary spending on goods outside the home."
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