Sailing may get rougher this year for Cosco Pacific

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2012, 12:00am


Cosco Pacific, the terminals and shipping-container division of China's largest shipping company, is facing mixed prospects this year after net profit climbed 7.6 per cent to US$388.8 million last year, up from US$366.2 million in 2010.

Excluding one-off gains from terminal disposals, the company saw net profit surge 35.2 per cent to US$364.4 million. Revenue rose by 34.2 per cent to US$599.2 million, up from US$446.5 million a year earlier.

Pointing to possible headwinds, Wang Xingru, vice-chairman and managing director, said growth in throughput at its 19 terminals was expected to slow this year amid an uncertain outlook for the global economy.

This came after a 15.1 per cent increase to 50.7 million teu (20-foot equivalent units) in overall container throughput, including a 13.9 per cent rise to 44 million teu at its mainland and Hong Kong facilities. The terminals business contributed net profit of US$184.9 million and revenue of US$323.3 million.

But Barclays Capital analysts were more positive and estimated container growth at mainland ports would stabilise at 10 per cent to 12 per cent this year and next.

Among the star performers were Tianjin Port Euroasia International container terminal, where volume soared 135.2 per cent to 1.35 million teu, and the Piraeus container terminal in Greece, which saw a 73.5 per cent throughput increase to 1.19 million teu.

Wang said seven new berths with an annual handling capacity of 4.2 million teu were added to the Cosco Pacific portfolio last year, to take the number of berths to 93. He said there would be a further capacity increase of 5.15 million teu this year.

Wang was more upbeat about container operations and had a 'cautiously optimistic outlook' after net profit grew to US$116.5 million last year against US$96.4 million in 2010. He said the majority of boxes bought last year by its offshoot Florens Container had been rented on long-term leases, and rental income was forecast to grow steadily this year.

Wang said China International Marine Containers, in which Cosco Pacific held a 21.8 per cent stake, saw net profit climb 30.4 per cent to US$119.8 million last year against US$91.8 million a year earlier, although demand for containers slowed in the second half.