May 8 - Despite a stable top line, Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA (WWH) posted a decline in operating profit in the first quarter of 2014, due to weaker profitability in the group's shipping and logistics activities.

The contribution from maritime services improved, supported by higher activity levels, and the second quarter is expected to surpass the results of the first quarter of 2014.

Total income for WWH was USD914 million for the first quarter of 2014 with top line up 2 percent when compared with the same quarter last year, while operating profit was down 2 percent at USD76 million compared with the same period last year.

"Lower shipping operating profit in the first quarter follows a reduction in auto volumes combines with an unfavourable trade mix," said group ceo, Thomas Wilhelmsen. "Seasonality and bad weather also contributed to less volumes transported.

The WWH board expects a modest improvement in the group's performance in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the first, but Wilhemsen noted that "the recent recovery in main shipping markets remains fragile".