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Monday, October 03, 2016

Earnings dip at Freo port may not affect sale price

Sean Smith - The West Australian on October 4, 2016, 9:54 am Fremantle Port has recorded a dip in underlying earnings but could still be worth more than $2.4 billion based on last month’s sale of the Port of Melbourne. Video Sunrise news break October 4th The annual report of the port operator, the State-owned Fremantle Ports, shows it defied slower trade through Fremantle in the year to June 30 to record a 9 per cent rise in net profit to $52.3 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, however, dipped $2.5 million to $97.2 million. On the same earnings multiple applied to the $9.7 billion sale of the Port of Melbourne, a sale of Fremantle would value the port at about $2.4 billion. The WA Government announced a proposed sale of the port in May 2015. But while enabling legislation has been introduced into State Parliament, a privatisation remains uncertain given opposition by the State National and Labor Parties. According to the annual report, port trade shed 2.6 per cent to 34.91 million tonnes, mainly because of lower exports of grain from Fremantle’s outer harbour. Container trade was down 3.8 per cent, reflecting WA’s softer economy. But is has grown at an average of 3.6 per cent over the past five years and Fremantle Ports forecasts 2 per cent growth for 2016-17. Elsewhere, live exports of sheep were off 7.4 per cent but exports of cattle up 30.9 per cent. Imports of cars, mainly from Japan, Thailand and South Korea, were flat at 101,587. The report also confirms Fremantle recorded its busiest cruise season since the early 1970s, with 58 ships visiting the port with 152,743 passengers, up from from 43 the year earlier. Another 60 visits are expected this financial year. Fremantle Ports returned $29.4 million in dividends to the Government during 2015-16, down from $46.7 million previously.

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