Port of Tauranga builds profit, increases total trade

Port of Tauranga has posted a 10% jump in interim profit and says it is well prepared for the challenges of operating in a recessionary environment.

The port’s net profit of $22.54 million for the half year ended December 31 came on the back of a 6% jump in total trade.

Container volumes were up 6% to 289,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

Log exports were up 26%, wood pulp exports were up 18% and coal imports were up 48%.

Port of Tauranga has maintained its fully imputed interim dividend of 9c a share.

The port’s chairman John Parker emphasises the company’s “very strong” balance sheet, with a debt to debt plus equity ratio of 29% and an interest cover of 4.8 times.

A small part of the port’s debt – $35 million – was rolled over during the period and now matures at the end of 2009.

The company’s remaining $225 million of debt matures on December 31, 
2010.

Mr Parker says the port does not know the extent of the challenges it will face in 2009 and has implemented cost reduction measures.

“However, we are not shying away from investing for future growth, having just bolstered our strategic landholdings by a further 4.4 hectares, following the execution of the Carter Holt Harvey partnership agreement.

This now brings our total landholdings to 185 hectares, including an additional 13.7 hectares of land purchased over the last twelve months.

“It remains very difficult to accurately forecast the remaining half of this financial year, with our customers not having much visibility on demand outlook, but at this stage we expect to post a full year result similar to last year’s earnings.”

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