According to the company, 2009 was the most challenging year the container port industry has experienced, with the first reported global decline in volumes since containerisation began, and with the industry as a whole reporting a decline of almost 12% in container volumes.
As Mohammed Sharaf DP World’s CEO explained, “Our 8% decline in volumes will lead to a decline in full year profit before tax against the same period last year; however management’s focus on cost cutting and maintaining revenues has mitigated the downside and we expect to report 2009 results in line with expectations.”
Despite the company qualification that in a challenging year it was pleased to have delivered better results than the industry due to its focus on the more resilient emerging markets, the question now must be whether the figures will frighten off some potential investors in the planned London listing?
During 2009, DP World opened two new terminals; Doraleh Container Terminal in Djibouti at the beginning of the year, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in the final quarter of the year. In addition, the company was awarded concessions for two new terminals in Algeria.
Sharaf is confident about the long term outlook for the container terminal industry and DP World’s strong competitive position within it. However, with customer confidence, remaining fragile with limited visibility for the medium term, “In 2010 whilst we expect to see container volumes improve, we will continue to remain focused on growing revenues and managing costs to drive EBITDA forwards,” he said.