Port of Tauranga, New Zealand’s largest port, reported good progress reinforcing its position as New Zealand’s pre-eminent freight gateway and a financial result for the six months to 31 December 2013 in line with the same period in the prior year.
Port of Tauranga Chairman David Pilkington said: “Port of Tauranga is very well positioned for its next phase of growth. We have again delivered a strong first half result, while our acquisition of a half share in PrimePort Timaru and our development of a freight hub in Rolleston, southwest of Christchurch, opens a new frontier of opportunities.”
“These investments coupled with the emerging strength of the New Zealand economy and strong international demand for the country’s agricultural and forestry exports will continue to drive increases in cargo volumes across our wharves.”
Reflecting this confidence, the Board has resolved to pay an interim dividend of 21 cents per share, up 5%, on the prior comparative period. The record date for entitlement to the interim dividend is 7 March and it will be paid 21 March 2014.
Group EBITDA for the period grew 5.5% to $71.5 million, from $67.7 million in the same period last year. Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) of $39.3 million was slightly ahead of the prior year’s underlying profit1 of $39.2 million. NPAT for the six months to 31 December 2012 of $74.2 million included a one-off $35.3 million gain on the sale of our stake in cargo handling group C3 Limited.
Overall trade volumes rose 5.8% to 9.9 million tonnes from 9.4 million tonnes in the prior year. The Port achieved this growth due to increases in bulk exports such as logs and bulk imports of dairy feed supplements and fertiliser, balanced by an 11.8% decrease in the number of containers handled to 381,038 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) from 431,878 TEUs in the comparative period. This decline reflected a 17.5% fall in dairy exports over the comparative period, however dairy volumes are expected to be greater than last year for the full year ended 30 June 2014.
Port of Tauranga Chief Executive Mark Cairns said: “Port of Tauranga has turned in another strong performance notwithstanding the loss of a major import call whilst continuing to invest in significant further infrastructure and strategic acquisitions to extend our freight catchment nationwide.”
Total imports increased by 4.1% to nearly 3.1 million tonnes from 3.0 million tonnes in the prior year. Total exports rose 6.6% to 6.8 million tonnes from 6.4 million tonnes in the comparative period.
Port of Tauranga has established a South Island presence acquiring a 50% share of PrimePort Timaru and taking over their Container Terminal operations.
“By developing Timaru into a feeder port, South Island importers and exporters will benefit from the freight savings and efficiencies offered by larger ships and the greater number of services calling at the Port of Tauranga,” Mr Cairns said.
In addition to the South Island investment, Port of Tauranga continues to make significant investment in infrastructure and assets to accommodate cargo growth and the trend towards larger vessels.
A new Liebherr gantry crane, the seventh in the Tauranga Container Terminal fleet, is currently being assembled and will be commissioned in March. The Terminal set an Australasian record in productivity in the three months to 30 September 2013 (as measured by the Ministry of Transport), achieving an average net crane rate of 37.1 moves per hour, well ahead of the national average of 33.7 moves per hour. This improvement in productivity has continued into 2014 with a record average net crane of 39.4 moves per hour being achieved over January 2014.
Port of Tauranga has ordered two new 74 tonne bollard pull tug boats for delivery early in 2015. Meanwhile, our dredging project, to widen and deepen the shipping channels in Tauranga Harbour for larger ships, is in the final planning stages and work is expected to commence in the next financial year.
Press Release, February 20, 2014