23 Aug 2013

Port of Tauranga profit up 52%

6:58 am on 23 August 2013

Annual net profit for Port of Tauranga has jumped 52% due to a one-off gain and strong growth in containers and bulk cargo volumes.

New Zealand's largest port's net profit rose to $112 million in the 12 months ended June.

That includes a $38 million profit from the sale of its 50% share of C3, a freight logistics company.

Underlying group net proft hit a record, rising 5% to $73.5 million.

Total freight transported across the port rose 3% to more than 19 million tonnes, driven by growth in exports: particularly in dairy products and logs, which offset a decline in imports.

Container volumes grew 7%, even though the previous year included increased volumes during industrial unrest at Ports of Auckland.

The results showed the second half was weaker than the first half and, in particular, growth in container volumes slowed from more than 25% in the first half to 7% for the full year.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said the port's business is subject to seasonal fluctuations and year on year growth has been good.

"Last year the container volumes grew a very significant 35%, that's against a global backdrop of around 3% globally, so we were doing our best to hang onto that, the fact that they actually grew another 7% we regard as a pretty solid achievement."

Mr Cairns said the competition is healthy between the ports and it's very dynamic in the container market.

He said Port of Tauranga is expecting the same container volumes for the coming year, but with the new acquisitions and stronger performance from subsidiaries and associates it's expecting earnings growth to continue.

Investors not happy

Craigs Investment Partners head of wealth research Mark Lister said investors were not happy with the company's annual results.

He said the result was perhaps marginally weaker than expected.

"I think the key reason that it's been down slightly is because it did have quite a good run going into the result and the market was probably looking for a little bit more clarity on exactly what's happening with their container volumes."

Mr Lister said the market is likely to be speculating on whether the weakness in container volumes in the second half of the year will continue.

The company will pay a final dividend of 26 cents per share.

Port of Tauranga shares fell 35 cents to $14.35 on Thursday.