HPH Trust's Q3 net profit drops 9% as cost rise outpaces revenue gain

SINGAPORE - Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPH Trust) has reported a 9 per cent drop in third-quarter net profit to HK$490.7 million (S$80.7 million).

This was despite revenue for the three months to Sept 30 rising by 1.7 per cent to HK$3.42 billion.

The container throughput of Hongkong International Terminals increased by 2.1 per cent, mainly due to higher transshipment volume but this was offset by weaker intra-Asia cargoes.

The container throughput of Yantian International Container Terminals, in Shenzhen climbed by 12.4 per cent, mainly due to the growth in transshipment and US cargoes. The average revenue per container box for Hong Kong was higher than last year due to favourable throughput mix from shipping liners.

For China, the average revenue per box was lower than last year, primarily due to a higher proportion of transshipment throughput handled.

On the flipside, cost of services rose by 5.2 per cent to HK$1.27 billion. This was mainly due to higher container throughput, increase in external contractors' costs and inflationary pressure.

Staff costs climbed by 6.2 per cent to HK$77.1 million.

Earnings per unit fell to 5.63 HK cents from 6.19 HK cents previously while net asset value per share slipped to HK$7.23 compared to HK$7.48 as at Dec 31.

HPH Trust noted that growth in the US and Europe is a major factor in determining the total volume of containers that it will handle.

Manufacturing activities and consumer sentiment in the US are looking promising, which portends well for the US economy.

Not surprisingly, outbound cargoes to the US accelerated in the third quarter and continue to display an upward trend.

On the other hand, Eurozone's business activities are slowing down due to the decline in demand and new orders. Outbound cargoes to the EU have begun to slow down.

Elsewhere, cargo volume for transshipment and the niche trade routes of Far East, Africa, Central and South America and Oceania is projected to increase moderately.

So far, the "Occupy Central" protests for democracy in Hong Kong has no negative impact to HPH Trust's Hong Kong operations.

"The trustee-manager is confident that HPH Trust will respond promptly and effectively to challenges such as labour wages and taxation increase, given its strong and improving fundamentals."