DP World, the world’s third-largest port operator, on Tuesday said its core earnings for 2011 would be in line with analysts’ expectations, as container volumes rose 10 percent over the prior year.
The company, one of the more profitable assets of debt-laden Dubai World, also said it would “comfortably” meet a $3 billion syndicated loan facility which matures in October.
“Dealing with the revolver is not seen as an issue,” Yuvraj Narayan, its chief financial officer, said on a conference call, noting the operator has $4 billion in cash on its balance sheet.
“As far as this particular facility is concerned, we have the ability to deal with the maturity.”
Bookrunners on the $3 billion loan signed in October 2007 were Barclays, Citi, Deutsche Bank and RBS.
DP World said it handled 54.7 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEU) during the year across all its terminals, compared with 49.6 million TEUs in 2010.
However, volumes at DP World’s consolidated terminals dropped to 7 million in the fourth quarter, compared with 7.3 million TEU during the same period in 2010. Consolidated terminals handled 27.5 million TEUs in 2011, slightly down from 27.8 million TEUs handled in 2010.
The operator, which is relying on its emerging markets focus to help offset a potential economic slowdown, saw double-digit growth in Asia, Africa and the Americas, the latter mainly due to Canada and Latin America.
“Emerging markets will remain robust. While 2012 is unlikely to be as good as last year, DP World will continue to grow,” Redwan Ahmed, an analyst at EFG Hermes said.
DP World Chief Executive Mohammed Sharaf said the operator will achieve 2011 full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) in line with analysts’ expectations.
Analysts project EBITDA in a range of $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion.
“Lower than expected net financing charges will benefit reported profit before tax,” Sharaf said in a statement.
Fourth-quarter gross volumes were 14.1 million TEU compared with 12.9 million TEU during the same period in 2010.
The port operator sold 75 percent of its Australian port operations for $1.5 billion in 2010 to private equity firm Citi Infrastructure Investors (CII).
DP World warned in October of tough conditions for its customers in 2012, but said it would achieve throughput growth of more than 7 percent in the year.
The company sold its 34 percent stake in U.K-based Tilbury Container Services Ltd for $75.48 million earlier this week.