CentrePort returns to profit

Port recovers from earthquake damage. 

CentrePort returned to profit as increased log shipments and container volumes helped it recover from an earthquake-affected result in 2014.

Net profit rose to $14 million in the 12 months ended June 30, turning around a loss of $1.9 million in the earlier year when CentrePort incurred costs for the July 2013 earthquakes, which damaged the port.

Revenue increased 9% to $66 million with a 13% increase in container trade to 107,407 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) while the log trade increased 8% to 875,028 Japanese agricultural standard units (JAS).

The result represents a 7.1% return on equity, increasing shareholder funds to $6.8 million after dividend payments of $6.3 million, CentrePort says.

The port operator is about 77% owned by Wellington Regional Council and 23% by Horizons Regional Council, whose territory extends from Horowhenua and Tararua to include Ruapehu in the central North Island. The company has established inland freight hubs in New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Whanganui and Blenheim.

Wellington's port wants to deepen its shipping channel and has increased its port storage facilities to accommodate larger vessels and more cargo.

"In the past 12 months, we continued to prepare our application for consent to deepen Wellington's shipping channel to accommodate bigger ships," chief executive Blair O'Keefe says.

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.

Port of Tauranga, which is spending $50 million to deepen its channels, established a hub in South Auckland, invested in Timaru's port infrastructure and teamed up with Kotahi, a freight venture between Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms. It is also developing an inland port on the southern outskirts of Christchurch.

Meanwhile, Ports of Auckland, Napier Port and storage and logistics group Icepak New Zealand have set up a joint venture to establish an inland port and freight hub in Palmerston North.

The Wellington port has expanded its reach, opening a new container terminal in Whanganui. It has a relationship with state-owned KiwiRail to transport containers across the central New Zealand, which lowers costs, it says.