18 Feb 2019

Port of Tauranga posts $49m half year net profit

9:35 am on 18 February 2019

The country's biggest port operator has posted a record half year profit as it handled a record number of containers.

Port of Tauranga

Port of Tauranga posted a net profit to the end of December of $49 million. Photo: RNZ / Joanne O'Brien

Port of Tauranga's net profit for the six months ended December rose to $49 million from the previous year's $47.1m.

The company handled 621,000 containers during the period as it benefited from being the only New Zealand port able to handle super-large container ships, while it cemented its position as a hub for cargo being sent to and from smaller regional ports.

"All evidence points to a continuing trend to larger vessels... we are now planning for the next stage of cargo growth," chief executive Mark Cairns said.

The company's revenue rose 8.5 percent as it handled 13.6 million tonnes of cargo, up 8.8 percent on the year before.

Bulk cargo volumes also rose - driven by rising log and kiwifruit exports.

The port has spent $350m in recent years on dredging and new infrastructure to handle bigger ships and store more cargo.

The company also has stakes in port operations in Northland and Timaru, both of which delivered lower earnings.

It said it was on track to handle about 1.3 million containers for the year, and said it expected a full year profit at the upper end of its $96m to $101m forecast range.

The company increased its interim dividend to six cents a share.