CentrePort lifts profit; develops Wairarapa rail hub

Write down of financial instruments.

Wellington's CentrePort lifted first-half profit 48% as it took a smaller hit on the value of its financial instruments compared with the year earlier period.

Profit from continuing operations increased to $4.6 million in the six months ended December, from $3.1 million the year earlier.

The company wrote down the value of its financial instruments held for hedging purposes by $693,000, compared with a $3.2 million reduction in value in the year earlier period.

Its revenue rose 3.4% to $35.5 million, while operating expenses increased 3.7% to $28.6 million. Container volumes through the port rose 18% while log volumes increased 12%.

New Zealand's biggest ports are racing to tie up the nation's flow of freight, via inland hubs, alliances and partnerships with transport companies.

The Wellington port operator last year expanded its reach, opening a new container terminal in Whanganui and has a relationship with state-owned KiwiRail to transport containers across central New Zealand.

The port wants to deepen its shipping channel to accommodate larger vessels and more cargo and is developing a regional rail hub in the Wairarapa to better link with the region's fast growing forestry industry.

It secured a new international shipping service in November to take goods from central New Zealand directly to the Americas and Europe, dubbed the "Panama service.”

Chief executive Derek Nind says the company is well positioned for growth and aims to be the port of choice for central New Zealand.

The company, jointly owned by the Wellington Regional Council and the Horizons Regional Council, will pay a first-half dividend of $2.6 million, unchanged from the year earlier period.