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New Zealand’s largest port has posted a record profit on the back of a rise in trade volumes and tight cost control.
Port of Tauranga said its underlying net profit after tax rose 17.2% to $57.9 million from $49.4 million in 2010.
Trade volumes through the port for the year ending June increased 12.4% to 15.4 million tonnes, from 13.7 million tonnes in the previous year.
This included 78% more international cargo, excluding cement and oil products that move around the New Zealand coast, with export volume more than three times its nearest competitor Ports of Auckland.
Chairman John Parker said the result underscored Port of Tauranga's position as the country's pre-eminent port.
"Despite the patchy economic recovery, we have enjoyed strong growth in trade volumes.”
During the year, Port of Tauranga cut net debt by $12.4 million to $186.1 million, after paying $40 million in dividends and investing $21.9 million back into the port.
Group gearing, as measured by debt to debt plus equity, stands at 29.3% compared with 30.1% last year.
“We regard this level of debt to be a prudent position in the current economic climate,” Mr Parker said.
Chief executive Mark Cairns said that although kiwifruit volumes held up during the year, the PSA bacterial vine disease is likely to weigh on export volumes as the disease begins to
harm plant productivity.
However, log export volumes have continued to strengthen over the year and the demand for New Zealand commodities looks to be robust for the foreseeable future with increased demand primarily
from China and growth also coming from India.
Port of Tauranga will continue to develop its Auckland freight village at MetroPort and work with its customers to create supply chain efficiencies utilising the expertise of its multiple business units.
The company is investing in the infrastructure necessary to accommodate larger vessels and increased traffic, Mr Cairns said.
Five new container services have been announced for Tauranga in the past few months and transhipment volumes (cargo moved ashore from one vessel then loaded onto another vessel) increased by 52% over the year with Tauranga being used more as a hub port.
"This will have a positive impact on future container volumes," Mr Cairns said, adding that the company would be making significant investments over the next five years.