Marsden Maritime projects second flat year of trade volumes through Northport

Northport chief executive Jon Moore says volumes would be similar to the 2015 year.

Marsden Maritime Holdings [NZX: MMH], which owns half of the Marsden Point-based Northport along with a marina, commercial facilities and land, expects trade volumes through the port to be little changed for a second year following a levelling out of log exports.

Northport chief executive Jon Moore says volumes will be similar to the 2015 year, when the port handled 2.46 million tonnes of logs, little changed from the year earlier, while overall cargo volumes declined 3 percent to 3.18 million tonnes.

Marsden and Port of Tauranga each own 50% of Northport, which reported little changed profit of $8.3 million in the year ended June 30. Marsden also owns 100% of Marsden Cove and Marina, and is itself about 54% owned by Northland Regional Council and 19.9% by Ports of Auckland.

The outlook for flat volumes comes as Port of Tauranga, New Zealand's largest port, projects no growth in earnings for 2016, in the face of uncertainty over log and dairy volumes, while South Port yesterday forecast a small decline in profit, reflecting "more subdued" market conditions after record volumes in 2015. The volume of logs and of forest products crossing Northport's wharves peaked in 2014.

Marsden chairman John Goulter told shareholders at their annual meeting yesterday that Northport was close to signing a new lease with the government over land reclaimed for use by the port, after four years of negotiations.

The previous lease expired in September 2011. The new lease is to be for 105 years and will include scope for the company to apply for freehold title, he said.

Marsden shares rose 1.8% to $2.85 and have gained about 5.6% this year.