South Port NZ first-half profit jumps on surprise lift in tonnage

Chief executive Mark O'Connor said the port had experienced an unexpected lift in tonnage, compared to customer estimates.

New Zealand's southern-most deep water port, South Port New Zealand [NZX: SPN], saw profits increase by 54% in the six months to the end of December 2015 to $5.06 million, despite worries about the global economy.

The port, which is based at Bluff, warned investors that the results were influenced by the scheduling of annual maintenance, with a much higher proportion of the work due to fall in the second half of its financial year. Full-year earnings are expected to be in the range of $8.25 to $8.75 million, compared to $7.74 million for 2015.

Chief executive Mark O'Connor said the port had experienced an unexpected lift in tonnage, compared to customer estimates."These projections had suggested reduced volumes across the board were likely, given the slow-down in the Chinese economy and lower international agriculture prices." Total cargo volumes rose 33,000 tonnes, or 2%, to just over 1.5 million tonnes.

This was mainly driven by stronger exports of bulk forestry products like logs and woodchips, as well as an increased volume of dairy products. Mr O'Connor said so far banks seemed to be backing the dairy industry "and accommodating continuing pasture maintenance and feed related expenditure."

Chairman Rex Chapman said the company expected operations in the second half of the year to be stable. An interim dividend of 7.5c  per share is to be paid on March 8, an increase on the 7c  paid this time last year.

Shares in South Port NZ currently trade at $4.40 and have risen by 18% in the last year.

(BusinessDesk)