Port of Tauranga expects annual earnings this year to meet analyst forecasts of between $51 million and $53 million, an increase on last year in part the result of rising container trade.

In the first three months of the current financial year, the port saw a 10 per cent increase in trade, a 25 per cent increase in containers and net profit after tax up 10 per cent, chief executive Mark Cairns said.

The forecast for the year to June 2011 compared with underlying earnings after tax for the last year of $49.4 million, a 9.3 per cent increase in turn on the previous year's record profit.

The port company believed the economic recovery would be long, slow and patchy.

Total trade last year was 13.7 million tonnes, up 2.4 per cent.