Cosco Pacific, one of the largest port operators and container leasing companies in the world, reported a 14 per cent increase in third-quarter net profit due to strong gains in its container terminal division. The company posted net income of US$93.99 million for the three months to September, up from US$82.63 million a year earlier. Sales grew 21 per cent to US$75.99 million. Profits were larger than sales because Cosco received substantial gains from its investment in partially owned companies. In the first nine months, net profit rose 10 per cent to US$246.8 million while sales fell 3 per cent. 'The container terminal and container leasing businesses grew gradually which did not surprise the market,' said Roslyn Ji Yongdi, an analyst at Core Pacific-Yamaichi. Container terminals partially owned by the company handled 17 per cent more containers during the quarter, than in the same period a year ago. Their cranes moved about 10.4 million 20-foot equivalent units (teu). For the first nine months, the terminals handled 20.7 per cent more containers totalling 28.8 million teu. The company shifted its strategy from owning containers to being a container manager. In the third quarter, it realised a US$2.6 million gain from selling boxes. It leased back the containers and received box management fees from shipping lines. Management said it wanted to diversify firm's business into bulk cargo terminals and increase its stakes in some existing port projects. The port operator obtained shareholders' consent to sell its entire stake in Chong Hing Bank for HK$2.09 billion on October 11. Analysts at Morgan Stanley said they believed more port acquisitions and development would follow after the sale.