The mixed results reflected slow growth in Brazil’s export volume (+4.8% in Q3, compared with a total increase in export value of 38.8% in the same period) and unfavourable exchange rates. The US dollar declined by 13.1% in value relative to the Brazilian real, but late in the quarter the global financial crisis sent the real 16.4% lower versus the dollar, with a negative impact on the company’s cash investments.
In aggregate terms, however, results remained well above 2007 levels. Building on a strong first half, consolidated EBITDA improved by 25.1% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2008, reaching US$82.8m. Better pricing and a more profitable mix of services, as well as accelerated growth in the offshore business, compensated for lower volume growth.
The company’s port terminals business posted US$47.4m in net revenues for Q3. Positive factors included the mix of services provided, represented by growth in warehousing activities and improvement in the breakdown of containers handled (with a 65:35 full-to-empty ratio). This compensated for the negative impact the weakening US dollar had on trade flows.
Growth in cabotage services continued to have a positive impact on the company’s port terminals, especially at Tecon Rio Grande. EBITDA in the port terminals business reached US$18.1m in Q3 and US$46.5m for the first nine months.
Wilson, Sons has two container terminals in Brazil, Tecon Rio Grande and Tecon Salvador. As part of the ongoing modernisation project at Tecon Rio Grande, a 250 m berth expansion was completed late in the quarter. This will increase capacity by 60% to 1.13m teu a year. The company’s next major challenge is to obtain formal authorisation from public authorities for its planned expansion project at Tecon Salvador.