A day after it got the nod from the Shippers' Council as a logical port of call for bigger container ports Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) has reported a 1.1% fall in underlying earnings on a 5.3% rise in container volumes.
The port, which referred to itself as "the South Island port of choice," reported net profit after tax fell 10.4% to $9 million in the year to June 30. But 60% of this was achieved in the second half, which was up 21% on a year ago.
Earnings before interest and tax of $29.2m compared to $29.5m last year.
The port said it had increased costs of $600,000 in securing term finance and $500,000 for dredging infill caused by unusually large and long easterly swells.
Revenue rose 3.4% to $87.33m. The port declared a 2.9c a share final dividend payable on October 28.
Yesterday the New Zealand Shippers' Council said Tauranga and Lyttelton were the logical ports to handle container ships capable of carrying 7000 20-foot equivalent (TEU) containers.
Currently the biggest ships calling regularly in New Zealand are 4100 TEU vessels. LPC said it handled the 4500 TEU OOCL New Zealand on its maiden voyage in April – the largest container vessel to ever call at LPC.
LPC continued to work through the feasibility of a merger with Port Otago but had no developments to announce.
A resource consent was lodged with ECan on December 22 for the deepening of the port's navigation channel to create a 14.5 metre draught capability at all tides. This included an extension of the channel to approximately four kilometres beyond the harbour heads.
"The financial year ahead is showing promising signs of producing volume growth across containers, coal and LPC's general cargo trades," chairman Rodger Fisher said.
In the year to June 30 the port experienced a 5.3% increase on last year's container volume to 273,789 TEU.
Full export container volumes grew 15.7% in the period and refrigerated container export volumes increased by 6.6%. Empty export container volumes declined 15.7% in the period.
The port has previously said it is handling more of Fonterra's exports after shipping service rationalisations.
Coal exports were down 2.7% to just over 2m tonnes, but this will improve next year, with the Pike River Coal mine on the West Coast has said it is moving from a development to a production phase.
In terms of total tonnage LPC remained the largest South Island port by a substantial margin and the third-largest in New Zealand.
An export log boom delivered a 58.7% increase in log volumes to the port.
The port said the vehicle trade also began to recover, and its import volumes rose by 21.1%. Fertiliser imports were also a highlight, with a 21.7% increase in volumes in the year.