Port of Tauranga earnings, volume up - containers down

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Port of Tauranga is claiming record after-tax earnings, up 9.3% to $49.4 million for the year to June.

Despite this, chairman John Parker said the company expects continuing economic recovery to be both slow and patchy.

The company's share price rose slightly on this morning's announcement to $6.75 (NZX: POT).

The company’s profit was based on revenue of $148 million, up $4.4 million compared with last year and followed its decision to defer any increase in fees during the year.

Adjustments in the government’s last budget saw the port company take a $10.5 million hit with a change to reduce the tax depreciation rate on buildings. Coupled with a $2.35 million impairment to asset values, the company reported a net profit after tax of $38 million.

Mr Parker said the company’s diversity of income streams and cargoes, together with a strong focus on controlling costs, had helped shield it from turbulent economic times.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said a focus on containment of costs will continue but would invest prudently.

“Larger ships calling at fewer ports is a reality,” he said.

“Port of Tauranga is continuing to invest in the infrastructure necessary to accommodate larger vessels and once the appeals to the dredging consent are resolved, we will move quickly to provide the draught that these larger vessels will require.”

The company is looking to deepen the shipping channels by up to 3.3 metres by removing 15 million cubic metres of sediment from Tauranga Harbour.

Of the 91 submissions received during the consent process, 80 opposed the company’s plans. Three commissioners recommended consent be granted, however, that decision has been appealed by three iwi-based objectors.

Total trade through the port was up 2.4% to 13.7 million tonnes and exports rose 8% to 9.2 million tonnes.

Forestry related exports increased 19% to 6 million tonnes alongside imports of grain and dairy food supplements, up 27% to 849,000 tonnes.

Container volumes were down by 6.5%, which was pegged to rationalisation of services through shipping line mergers.

Statistics New Zealand data for the year to June 30 showed Tauranga handled about 80% more international cargo than its nearest competitor – up 56% on last year – and three times the volume of exports.

“Our financial strength, location and transport connections make us the logical choice to be the North Island’s hub for imports and exports,” Mr Cairns said.

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