Port of Tauranga posts record interim profit

New Zealand's largest port, Port of Tauranga, has booked another record half-year profit as its container traffic and bulk volumes continue to grow.

The listed company produced a net profit after tax of $74.2 million, up from $34.6m in the previous six months to December.

However, the company advised its underlying profit was a better measure of normal operations because it excluded a net gain of $35m from the sale of a half-share in product handling firm C3 Ltd in November.

That profit figure rose more than 13 per cent to $39.1m on revenue of $188.6m, which rose 12 per cent.

Port chairman John Parker said he expected container growth to continue as the port expanded its capacity and "continued to deliver the reliability" the company was known for.

The port has the highest productivity levels in the country and benefited from strike action taken by Ports of Auckland waterside workers last year.

However, the latest results have been underpinned by a rise in services calling at the port.

Seven new services have been added to the port's list in the last year, pushing container volumes during the period up 25 per cent, to 431,840 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

Trade volumes also increased 10 per cent to 9.4 million tonnes. Total exports rose 16 per cent to 6.4 million tonnes, of which dairy exports rose the most, by 87 per cent.

Meat exports also rose by 31 per cent, log volumes were up nearly 14 per cent, and import volumes remained steady.

Metroport, the company's inland port in Auckland, picked up a 25 per cent increase in traffic.

The board declared a fully imputed interim dividend of 20 cents a share, up 66 per cent from the previous year. It also announced it would modify the dividend policy to increase the proportion of dividends paid at half-year to about 45 per cent of the annual dividend.