24 Aug 2005
Further container traffic gains and a lift in imports and coal shipments saw the Port of Tauranga largely offset the ongoing downturn in forestry exports to earn a steady net profit of $33.65 million for the year to 30 June 2005, just
$2,000 more than the previous year. Final dividend is 13c per share totalling an unchanged 20c per share for the year.
Port Chairman, John Parker, said that the result was pleasing given the difficult trading environment that many exporters faced and it once again demonstrated the benefits
of the ongoing diversification of the Port's cargoes and activities.
Container traffic growth rose by 11.1% to 438,214 TEU, reflecting the continued success of the Company's MetroPort
operation in Auckland. Container shipments through MetroPort were 39% higher.
Total cargo through the Port was 3.1% greater at 12.6 million tonnes. Import cargo volumes for the year rose by 22.6% to 5.2 million tonnes, accounting for 42% of total trade through the Port and offsetting a fall in export volumes for the year at New Zealand's largest export port -down by 8.6% to 7.3 million tonnes.
"Highlights in trade were the solid gains made in the export of kiwifruit, apples and milk powder. On the import side the handling of oil products, fertilisers and grain all made significant gains," he said.
However, forestry-related exports mostly continued their decline during the year with log shipments back 20.2% and sawn timber, wood panel and wood chip exports all reduced, although paper product shipments were 30% higher and wood pulp 7% up.
Mr Parker said the Port's contract to handle the new coal supply for Genesis Energy's Huntly Power Station had been a major boost to the Company. This saw coal tonnage through
the Port lifting from 663,000 tonnes to 879,000 tonnes, an increase of 32.6%.
"Subsequent to the end of the financial year, we were able to finalise an agreement with Goodman Fielder, for the construction of a 20,000 tonne grain storage facility."
He said this facility was needed due to the growth that Goodman Fielder's Champion Flour Mill has experienced since
the company's North Island milling operations were centralised at Tauranga five years ago.
"Overall, our core bulk cargo and container operations performed well, but the forestry situation has significantly impacted on the operations of both Toll Owens
and Northport, reducing our returns from these
He said the year was characterised by the significant investments made in upgrading and improving the quality of the Port's working assets.
"As well as building and commissioning the new $32 million coal handling facility, we commissioned the fourth container crane at Sulphur Point and upgraded our straddle carrier fleet.
At MetroPort we have significantly expanded facilities to improve the flow and handling of containers for the rail connection between MetroPort and Sulphur Point.
MetroPort is now New Zealand's largest inland port in its own right and a vital part of the Port of Tauranga's strategy.
We have extensively upgraded this facility by more than doubling the number of container slots, installing lighting, new computer systems and adding two more rail sidings so that the operation can be serviced by trains with 100 TEU capacity.
Once again, it has been a year in which we have continued to invest in the future by ensuring we have the assets, systems and people in place to grow the business in a sustainable long-term manner."
The profit was earned on revenue 3.6% lower at $145.6 million and after a tax charge $1.2 million lower at $14.16
million. At the operating EBITDa level, the result was little changed at $73.89 million against $73.90 million previously.
Earnings per share were unchanged at 25.1 cents with the overall return on equity at 8.0%.
The Port's balance sheet remains strong, with shareholders'
equity of 65.7% at year end.
Mr Parker acknowledged the ongoing commitment from staff to ensure the Port's operations continue to be marked by its efficiency and a dedication to customer service during what has been a challenging period of change both within the business and in the wider business environment.
An important development during the year was the decision by the Port's Chief Executive of the past nine years, Jon Mayson, to step aside from the position.
"Jon's impact on the Company has been substantial and the results that he and his team have achieved during his tenure have been outstanding.
It is further tribute to Jon that after an international search we have found his successor from within that wider team in Mark Cairns, who has been Chief Executive of Toll Owens, the 50/50 joint venture between The Owens Cargo Company and Toll Logistics New Zealand."
Mr Parker said that Mark Cairns would take up his new appointment after the Company's Annual Meeting on 31 October.
The record date for the final dividend is 23 September 2005, and the payment date is 7 October 2005.
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