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Port Of Tauranga Experiences Strong Export But Weak Imports

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Feb 25 NZPA - Port of Tauranga Ltd said it is addressing a drop in imports through its port during the recession, and signalling a similar annual profit to last year after reporting a 2 percent rise in interim profit.

The port reported a net profit of $23.1 million in the six months to December 31, up from $22.54m in the same period last year.

Revenue fell 9 percent to $67.05m. The company is paying an unchanged 9c a share dividend on March 26.

It is 55 percent owned by Quayside Securities Ltd, which is owned by Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Tonnage through the port fell 5 percent to 6.5 million tonnes. Exports grew 10 percent and the port did not give a figure for imports.

The number of containers handled fell 18 percent, but this was partly due to fewer exports of logs in containers. Log exports rose 31 percent and more of the exports were on bulk vessels.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said there was a significant drop in imports into the country during the recession and changes in ship calls saw the port gain exports but lose imports.

It had gained exports through its inland port in Auckland, called MetroPort, but had lost imports.

The port was working on a number of initiatives to gain more imports but could not say more at the moment.

"MetroPort is well established," he said.

"Metroport has proven that our import catchment can be a whole lot wider," he said.

Mr Cairns welcomed moves by Lyttelton Port of Christchurch and Port Otago Ltd to take talks about an operational merger forward but he said Port of Tauranga was not talking to any ports about a merger.

"Good luck to them. We are watching what they are doing. We think it is a sensible move," he said.

A 44 percent rise in dairy volume was mostly from Fonterra's Crawford Road logistics facility in the Waikato.

Mr Cairns expected forestry industry exports to remain strong, saying there had been a structural change with reduced supply from the Russian market into China.

It was difficult to accurately forecast the remaining half of this financial year, but the company anticipated a gradual improvement in economic growth.

At this stage the port maintained its previous guidance of a full year earnings result similar to last year's, which was a record.

Crane productivity rose 3.5 percent over the last quarter of 2009 to 35.3 moves per hour and truck turn times were industry leading, with an average of 10 minutes turn time at Sulphur Point, and nine minutes at MetroPort.

The port has lodged resource consent applications to dredge harbour channels to cater for the next generation of vessels. A consent hearing date is scheduled for March 2010. Once these consents were secured Tauranga could provide a 14.5m draught at low tide.

The port had options to move earlier, Mr Cairns said without elaborating.

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