Thursday, September 06 11:30:43
Shannon Foynes Port Company - Ireland's largest bulk port company - today said it achieved a record operating profit of close to E2.9 million last year.
Key performance outputs from 2011 include an 8pc increase in cargo throughput to 10.1million tonnes, which comes on top of the 23.5pc increase recorded in 2010.
The company recorded a 2.2pc increase in turnover to E10.1million, resulting in a 13pc increase in operating margin from 25.5pc to 28.1pc.
It also maintained its focus on cost control with operating costs decreasing by 35pc since 2007 and slashed its debt to E14.5m from its 2007 peak of E16.6m, despite spending E4.1m. Commenting on the results, Shannon Foynes Port Company Chairperson Michael Collins said: "The improvement in profit, tonnages and operating margins in what continues to be an extremely challenging environment confirms the steady progress achieved at Shannon Foynes Port Company over recent years. This is best illustrated by the 180pc increase in margins when compared to 2007 levels and is a reason for confidence for the future."
The accounts show that operating profit before exceptional items, financing costs, profit on disposal of assets and taxation was E2.858 million - up by 13pc on 2010.
Profit on disposal of assets was E879k net of tax, primarily relating to the disposal of land at Limerick. After exceptional items, financing costs and net disposal proceeds, the Company had a profit attributable to the Shareholder of approximately E2.73 million.
Shannon Foynes Port Company CEO Patrick Keating said: "The Company's improvement in tonnages and financial performance is all the more noteworthy considering the prevailing economic conditions and credit restrictions on the investment sector, which continue to impact on the break bulk and dry bulk trades for the construction sector. Our Balance Sheet is moving to a position of strength arising from the improved operating performance of recent years."
However, Mr Keating said that some of the gains in 2011 overall were eroded in the fourth quarter when, due to mild weather, there was a reduction of short range import of commodities such as salt and solid fuel liquids, while agri-related quota restrictions in the dairy sector also negatively impacted agricultural cargoes.
"While the Company is reporting record bottom line profits, it is faced with substantial obligations in terms of pension liabilities, debt servicing requirements, its capital investment program and more onerous requirement from its shareholder in the form of increased dividend payments," he continued.
"Therefore, it is essential that we maintain the upward trend in profitability reported in recent years in order to satisfy these obligations in the future. Maintaining existing EBITDA levels will remain challenging but the Company is very much committed to improving overall port competitiveness, particularly, regarding services consumed by customers using its facilities."
The Company, he added, intends to take advantage of the falling interest rate environment to lock in low rates on a substantial portion of long-term debt.