Port of Tauranga rewards investors with dividend hike, retains FY guidance

Port of Tauranga

Port of Tauranga lifted its first-half dividend by 66 percent after posting record earnings on increased volumes export volumes of dairy products, meat and logs. The company affirmed its full-year guidance.

Net profit rose to $74.2 million in the six months ended December 31 from $34.6 million a year earlier, reflecting a 12 percent gain in sales to $188.6 million and a one-time gain of $35 million from the of its half-share in stevedoring firm C3, the company says in a statement.

Excluding C3, profit rose 13 percent to $39.6 million, about matching a forecast from brokerage Forsyth Barr. The shares climbed 1.4 percent to $14, matching the record high set earlier this month.

The port, which is 55 percent-owned by Bay of Plenty Regional Council, has benefited from industrial strife at rival Ports of Auckland, which has seen freight diverted south and spurred shipping lines to switch, allowing the company to give itself the title of "pre-eminent national freight gateway".

The company is embarked on a three-year, $170 million programme to expand its container terminal, increase berthage, add a sixth gantry crane and dredge its shipping channel.

The bulk of its sales gains came from port operations, where revenue rose to 14 percent to $96 million. Property services revenue rose 3 percent to $9.87 million and transport services rose to $1.2 million from $704,000.

Trade volume growth of 10 percent to 9.4 million tonnes was driven by exports, which jumped 16 percent to 6.4 million tonnes, while import volumes held steady at about 3 million tonnes.

Dairy volumes recorded the biggest increase, rising 87 percent to 935,000 tonnes, while meat exports rose 31 percent to 184,000 tonnes and logs gained 13.8 percent to 2.6 million tonnes.

Container volumes rose 26 percent to 431,840 twenty foot equivalent units.

Port of Tauranga's MetroPort hub in south Auckland, which connects by rail with its main facility in the east coast city, lifted volumes by 26 percent to 101,440 TEUs.

Operating expenses rose to $58.6 million from $51.8 million.

The company reiterated its full-year forecast of underlying profit of $75 million to $$79 million, up from $73.5 million last year.

It said log volumes are expected to continue growing on demand from China and it sees growth in container volumes.

(BusinessDesk)

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