(BusinessDesk) - Port of Tauranga [NZX:POT], New Zealand's biggest port company, raised its full-year earnings guidance after posting a 13 percent gain in first-half profit that was driven by growth in cargo volumes.
Net profit rose to $47 million in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $41.9 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales rose to $141 million from $125 million.
The company raised its forecast for full-year profit to a range of $92-$96 million from the $88-$92 million guidance it gave at its annual meeting and up from $83.4 million in 2017. It said container volumes rose about 16 percent to 590,803 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units), transhipped containers jumped about 48 percent. Import volumes rose 21 percent, led by increases in grain and dairy feed supplements, while exports rose 9.4 percent, led by a 13 percent gain in log volumes.
Chief executive Mark Cairns said the port expects to handle 1.2 million TEUs in the year ending June 30, having broken through 1 million for the first time last year. "We can handle up to three million TEUs annually without any further reclamation," he said, citing Ernst & Young's Port Future Study. "We consider all evidence points to the trend to larger vessels continuing and even accelerating. Port of Tauranga is the only port in New Zealand able to accommodate the big ships and their cargoes."
The company will pay an interim dividend of 5.7 cents a share, up 14 percent from a year earlier. The port company's shares last traded at $4.99 and have gained 14 percent in the past 12 months.
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