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Strong Start for South Port

Southland’s contribution to the country’s economic stability was further confirmed today when the operator of the Bluff export-import port, South Port New Zealand Ltd, advised the Stock Exchange of strong trading trends in the six months to 31 December 2001.

“The southern part of New Zealand has experienced growth levels that have not been seen for many decades,” says South Port chairman John Harrington. “Record production volumes and financial results have been recorded across a wide range of industries.”

Buoyed by strong trading activity in both the domestic and international markets, South Port today reported revenue of $6.9m, a rise of 19% on the previous interim period and a strong half year unaudited net profit of $1.5m, which represents a lift of approximately $600,000 or 65%. The result includes non-recurring net gains of $183,000 arising from a property asset disposal.

Mr Harrington says that the 2002 financial year has started “extremely well”. Up to now the national economy has been resilient against a background of weakening international markets and the impact of the terrorist attacks in the United States. He warns that, ‘as with all trading patterns, the positive phase of the cycle currently being encountered will inevitably take a downward turn at some time in the future.”

Total cargo handled in the first half of the 2002 financial year was a record 1,083,000 tonnes compared with 981,000 tonnes in 2001. The chief executive, Mr Mark O’Connor, says, “It is the first time that South Port has moved more than one million tonnes in a six-month period.”

Increases occurred in almost all cargo categories, says Mr O’Connor. There were notable lifts in fertiliser, fuel and grain on the import side. In the export sector, positive gains were recorded for dairy products, gravel, stockfood, tallow and forest products such as medium density fibreboard, sawn timber and woodchips.

The strong levels of first half activity indicate that South Port should register in excess of 2 million tonnes of annual cargo in the 30 June 2002 year, he says.

The directors have declared a fully imputed interim dividend of 2.75 cents per share, payable on 1 March 2002 (prior year interim 2.5 cents per share). In November 2001 South Port paid a special dividend of 11.5 cents per share when a $3m tax paid distribution was made to shareholders.

Encouraged by the continuing growth in warehousing and cargo handling, South Port has increased permanent staff numbers 30% over the past 36 months, with most new employees residing in Bluff.

Construction on the port’s Island Harbour of a 12,000 tonne capacity bulk storage tank for Ballance Agri-Nutrients will be completed in March 2002 and will be used for sulphuric acid imported from Australia. An additional dry warehouse is being constructed and will increase the total dry warehousing available to South Port to 18,000 square metres and a further 3,500 square metres of dry warehousing is on long term lease.

Mr O’Connor says, “Demand for the new warehousing originates from the forestry processing and dairy sectors and with the ongoing success of these industries we expect the additional capacity to be well utilised once completed in late February.”

He noted that Tasman Orient Line has extended its range of destinations for exporters and importers and amongst the Asian ports added are Shanghai and Mawan in southern China, “a vital export market for processed forestry products from Southland.”

Another significant decision in the shipping industry in December was Mediterranean Shipping Company’s move to replace its existing trans-tasman vessel the MSC Kiwi with a new and much larger container ship named MSC New Plymouth. The vessel will form part of the Southern Express service calling at ports in New Zealand and Australia. MSC has established a strong presence in southern New Zealand and is effectively linking South Port’s clients in closely with MSC’s global shipping connections via Melbourne.

He says that following the December 2001 acquisition of the BHP/IMT West Coast North American service by Gearbulk, the International Marine Transport business will operate under the banner of Gearbulk IMT Lines Ltd and will continue to service southern New Zealand based clients.


For Further Information Please Contact:

Mr Mark O’Connor
Chief Executive
South Port New Zealand Ltd
Tel 03-212 8159
Fax 03 212 8685
Web site:
Released for South Port New Zealand Ltd by Mr Warren Head,
Head Consultants Ltd,
Tel (03) 3650-344;
Fax (03) 3654-255
Mobile (025) 340-650

Note for Analysts/Media:

The issued capital of South Port New Zealand Ltd is $9.4m, which is made up of 26,234,898 ordinary shares. Major shareholders are Southland Regional Council 66.48% and Infratil 7.75%. The company’s headquarters are located at Bluff, Southland.

In the full year ended 30 June 2001 a record cargo volume of 1.95 million tonnes was achieved. Revenue was $12.43m and net profit was $2.2m (a gain of 12.4% on 2000) with earnings per share 8.4 cents.

Dividends in the 2001 year amounted to 6 cents per share (2.5 cents interim and 3.5 cents final), representing a payout ratio of 72%.

Net Tangible Asset Backing as at 30 June 2001 was 94 cents per share.

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