Last time you flew JetBlue or cruised with Royal Caribbean, you likely were also patronizing a far-reaching Miami company that fuels businesses and governments around the world.
World Fuel Services Corp., headquartered in Miami, markets, sells and distributes aviation, marine and land fuel products and services to clients like JetBlue and Royal Caribbean in about 30 countries — racking up about $34.6 billion annually. The publicly traded company, the largest in South Florida last year, grew 81 percent in revenues in 2011 — in part through acquisitions.
The company burgeoned despite a challenging year in global fuel markets, which were affected by world politics and events ranging from military action in Iraq and Afghanistan to volatile oil prices. Brent crude oil prices traded from $96.29 to $123.15 per barrel in 2011 and closed Friday, Sept. 21 at $111.50.
World Fuel sells products that help hedge against oil price swings, smoothing out the costs for its clients.
“Volatility is something we manage, track, absorb and practically live on,” CEO Michael Kasbar said on a February earnings call. “The more chaotic and confusing things are, the more opportunity for us to add value.”
Neither Kasbar nor a spokesperson would comment for this article, citing company policy.
Apart from those challenges, World Fuel last year settled a long-running lawsuit that included racketeering claims brought by customer Brendan Airways, which operated as USA 3000. The terms, resolving disputes over claims of fuel overcharges, were confidential.
At the same time, the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated 2010 insider trading complaints against a group that included former World Fuel executives. Neither the company nor the current leadership, were named in the civil claims.
Those issues were behind the company at the outset of 2012. Kasbar took the reins as World Fuel’s new CEO on Jan. 1, succeeding Paul Stebbins. Stebbins, CEO since 2002, moved into the position of executive chairman. Both men have been part of World Fuel Services since its inception.
Kasbar, who was previously World Fuel’s chief operating officer, and Stebbins founded Trans-Tec Services in 1985, the New York-based marine-fuel brokerage that was sold in 1995 to International Recovery Corp., which then changed its name to World Fuel Services.
Today, World Fuel, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange as INT and has about 1,800 employees worldwide, is a reseller and broker of fuel and contracts with a large network of third party suppliers to provide fuel products. It hedges prices and enters into derivatives contracts to protect against market price fluctuations in fuel and currency exchange rates.
In addition to commercial airlines and cruise lines, World Fuel’s clients include private aircraft and cargo carriers, container and tanker fleets, yachts, petroleum distributors and retail operators, and U.S. and foreign governments. Bloomberg News reported World Fuel ranked No. 5 fuel supplier to the Pentagon with $858 million in contracts.
The marine segment was the largest portion of the company’s business last year, with $14.6 billion in revenue; aviation was second with $12.9 billion; and the land segment accounted for $7.2 billion in revenue, according to the company’s annual report.
All three were in the black when in August, World Fuel reported $95 million in companywide profits for the first six months of 2012, on revenues of $19 billion. Full-year profits for 2011 were $194 million, 32.1 percent higher than the previous year, investor filings show. The company’s stock dropped nearly 17 percent, following the August earnings release, which also reported lower net income for the second quarter.