PORTS of Auckland has reported a slight increase in revenues but sharp drops in net and underlying profits, and reduced volumes in containers and vehicles in a “transformational” 2018-19.

Releasing the port company’s annual results chief executive Tony Gibson described the financial year as challenging but productive.

Group revenue rose slightly to NZ$248.1m from $243.2m in the previous corresponding period (pcp). However, net profit after tax was $53.9m compared to $76.8m for the pcp and underlying profit after tax was $45.0m compared to $59.2m. Auckland attributed the result to reduced space due to automation work at its container terminal, the loss of a container service and a cyclical decline in car volumes.

Container volumes were down 3.5% to 939,680 teu compared to 973,722 teu for the pcp. Car and light commercial vehicle volumes were by down 14% to 255,252 units, compared with 297,678 units for 2017-18: as a result, bulk and breakbulk volumes were down 3.3% to 6.5 million tonnes compared to 6.8 million tonnes previously. Non-car bulk and breakbulk volumes rose 7.4% to 3.7 million tonnes.

Capital expenditure increased to $104.8m ($96.5m pcp) to increase capacity and productivity, and improve safety. Auckland took delivery of three new container cranes, which have now been commissioned for testing of the new automated terminal facilities. Mr Gibson noted that in order to avoid any peak season disruption automation ‘go-live’ will not begin until February 2020.

The port is also investing in a new car-handling building to increase vehicle capacity in the port.

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Ports of Auckland said that to fund the investment programme, no final dividend has been declared but for the financial years ending June 30, 2020 and 2021 the company anticipates paying a dividend of 20% of after-tax profits.

“Overall, the company is in good shape and good heart,” Mr Gibson said. “The projects underway are a significant investment in our future and they are going well. We look forward to the year ahead, as automation comes on stream and we begin to see the results of the hard work of the last few years.”

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