South Port cargo volumes up but profit down

A quieter than usual export off-season slightly undermined South Port's profit during trading for the half-year to December, but the port company maintains its full-year financial guidance expectations.

While cargo volumes rose 8% or 101,000 tonnes to 1.36 million tonnes, lower returns from warehousing saw after-tax profit down 7.5 %, from $2.9 million a year ago to $2.68 million, chairman Rex Chapman said yesterday.

''This result was encouraging after the company and the rest of the freight market in New Zealand encountered a quieter than normal export off-season in the July to September 2013 quarter,'' Mr Chapman said in a statement yesterday.

The half-year dividend was down from 6.5c last year to 6c, while shares in South Port were unchanged after the announcement at $3.50.

The cargo lift was primarily driven by strong fertiliser and stock food imports and increased export log volumes, but there were declines in dairy products, imports for the Bluff aluminium smelter cargo and sawn timber.

Mr Chapman said the second half trading should provide consistent cargo volumes across most sectors and estimated full year earnings in a range of $5.8 million to $6 million.

Chief executive Mark O'Connor said South Port was working with its major shipping line, MSC, in reviewing the port's container handling infrastructure, which could mean more capital investment in the future.



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