Port of Tauranga result dwarfs Auckland rival

Port of Tauranga has announced an annual profit of $42.1 million, almost exactly double that of its biggest rival, Ports of Auckland.

The Tauranga port saw container throughput increase 25% to 582,072 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) for the year ending June 30, resulting in total operating revenue increasing by 14.8 per cent.

Its profit after tax was up 7 per cent from $39.3 million last year.
Chairman John Parker said the performance was a solid result, which reflected the long-term stability of the company in a volatile economy.

Ports of Auckland, which posted a profit of $21.1 million for the 2008 financial year, announced a shock play for Tauranga’s container business last week.

Port of Tauranga said in its results filing that it had not yet seen a proposal from Ports of Auckland.

“Until we do, we are unable to comment, other than to say we are struggling to see how an offer would be value accretive to our shareholders in view of our strong result announced  today, including a further 25 per cent growth in containers over the last financial year. 

“Nonetheless, Port of Tauranga has always held the view that a full merger between Port of Tauranga and Ports of Auckland makes good sense.  That view has not changed.”

Directors have declared a fully imputed final dividend of 16 cps, after an interim payment of 9c.

“We are pleased that trade growth has again flowed through into earnings growth, allowing us to deliver on our policy of increasing dividend distributions,” Mr Parker said.

Port of Tauranga’s total trade was up 7 per cent at 13.535 million tonnes, with some large swings in volume for certain products: kiwifruit exports were up 25 per cent; steel was up 14 per cent and palm kernel and grain by 94 per cent. But dairy exports decreased by 40 per cent, while imported coal dropped 58 per cent.

The port’s inland port MetroPort in Onehunga now facilitates 170,000 TEUs being railed from Tauranga to the greater Auckland region.

Mr Parker gave a positive outlook for 2009, saying the company expected to maintain earnings growth despite global economic conditions.

During the year Port of Tauranga will expand its container terminal; take delivery of a fifth gantry crane; and continue seeking resource consents for dredging of the shipping channels to cater for bigger ships.

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