Port Otago posts 42% profit increase

Port Otago chairman Tim Gibson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Port Otago chairman Tim Gibson. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Port Otago has posted a $9.2 million half-year profit for the six months ending December 31, up 42% on the previous corresponding period.

In a statement, new chairman Tim Gibson described the result as positive given the challenges of recent years, saying it reflected the company’s strong underlying financial base and focus on ensuring that stability long-term.

Its four business components - container, bulk, cruise and property - provided a balanced portfolio that minimised the impact of a poor financial performance within any single business unit.

"The value of that approach has been well illustrated by the complete disappearance of cruise for two and a-half years. The other three business units carried us through until October, when we welcomed the smooth return of cruise," he said.

Revenue from marine and cargo services was up 29% on the corresponding period last year, due to the return of cruise, alongside increased bulk and container volumes.

About 100 cruise ships were expected to visit Port Chalmers and Dunedin this season, contributing more than $60 million to the local economy.

While container trade continued to be disrupted by constraints elsewhere in the network, vessel reliability was improving and a more normal pattern emerging.

Container TEU throughput increased by 5% over the period, with lower import volumes offset by higher trans-ship volumes through Port Chalmers.

Log export volumes of 543,000 tonnes for the six months were up 23% on last year’s comparative period volume of 441,000 tonnes.

The long-term strategy of investing in the Auckland and Hamilton property markets was delivering, with income from property rentals increasing 10% to $16.7 million. Four design/build/lease projects were under way and three would be completed by June next year, Mr Gibson said.

Total borrowings increased by $18 million during the six months, to $127 million at December 31, 2022, due to increased capital spend in Hamilton.

That was partially offset by increased cash flow from operations, due to improved business activity. There was an equity ratio of 80%.

Construction of the company’s new office remained on track and the team was expected to move into the building mid year, while the refreshed Port Chalmers Maritime Museum should reopen in November.

Within the port community, the new amenity beach at Te Rauone, Harington Point, was the highlight of the six-month period.

The long-running project reached a milestone at Christmas, when work to pump 28,000cum of recycled sand from its dredging operation up on to the beach was completed.

Looking ahead at the six months to June 30 2023, Mr Gibson expected a 2022-23 full-year result ahead of last year.

"Alongside the return of cruise and increasing property rentals, we expect container and bulk volumes to be similar or slightly better than last year," he said.

Directors declared an interim dividend of $6.5 million, up from $6 million last year, which would be paid this month.