Port of Napier full year profit rises 14% to record as more cargo crosses wharves

Profit rose to $13.4m in the 12 months ended Sept. 30.

Port of Napier posted a 14 percent gain in annual profit to a record after increasing container and bulk cargo volumes, allowing New Zealand's fourth-largest container port to increase dividends to its Hawke's Bay Regional Council owner.

Profit rose to $13.4 million in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, from $11.8 million a year earlier, according to the company's annual report. Sales rose 8 percent to $67 million.

The port company is positioning itself as a hub for shipping in anticipation of visits by larger vessels, which would make fewer stops to pick up cargo that had been drawn from across central New Zealand. Dredging in its latest year has deepened the port's draft to 12.4 metres, giving it more capacity to handle big ships, and it spent $19 million adding two container cranes, forecasting a 20 percent lift in container volumes in the current year.

The port handled 2.4 million tonnes of bulk cargo, up 3.2 percent on the year, while container volumes rose 6.8 percent to 220,048 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units), putting it in fourth place behind Port of Tauranga, Ports of Auckland and Lyttelton Port Co. Napier now handles 8 percent of New Zealand's total exports by weight. Total throughput was 4.1 million tonnes.

The port will make a final dividend payment to the council of about $3.2 million, making $6.99 million for the year, up from $6.1 million.

The results were released to coincide with the annual meeting, at which chairman Jim Scotland stepped down after 10 years in the role. He is being replaced by director Alasdair MacLeod.