WASHINGTON: Port Otago says a strong primary export market helped it achieve a fourth year of growth with a 13% profit rise to $38.7 million. The company yesterday presented its annual results to its owner, the Otago Regional Council. It reported revenue of $89.6 million for the year, generated by strong port operations, as well as the sale of a $6.9 million land parcel in Hamilton. Subsidiary Chalmers Properties’ 60ha Te Rapa Gateway industrial development near Hamilton was sporting ”a lot of sold signs”, the meeting heard.
Port Otago chairman David Faulkner said the company’s performance came on the back of a 14% increase in conventional cargo volumes to 1.5 million tonnes, largely driven by a 144,000-tonne increase in log exports. A record 957,000 tonnes was shipped out of both Port Chalmers and Dunedin. Fertiliser volumes were also up, increasing by 44% to 135,000 tonnes. Returns from Chalmers Properties reflected the importance of investment diversification, with rentals up 6% to $14.8 million. Mr Faulkner said resource consents had been secured for disposal of dredging material for the next 25 years, meaning the port could complete its planned deepening of Otago Harbour for larger vessels. He said the performance was ”gratifying against a backdrop of extensive investment into infrastructural expansion of the port and its facilities, including the progress on deepening of the shipping channel to Port Chalmers to 14m”. The next stage would be the 135m, $21 million extension of the multi-purpose wharf, which would begin this month. During question time, Cr Michael Laws said Port Otago was making plenty of money, but its dividend to the ORC was ”pathetic”. He asked if there would be ”resistance” to the council taking more. Mr Faulkner replied the profit reported included $20 million of asset revaluation, not cash. The company paid the dividend from cash. Infrastructure development was also needed, and this cost money.