Port of Tauranga is the latest in a long line of listed companies to withdraw earnings guidance for the year because of the impact of Government measures against the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

But chief executive Mark Cairns said the listed company, which operates New Zealand's biggest port, remained in a strong position to weather the pandemic impact.

The port's full-year profit guidance was $94-$99m. It had been revised down by 1.4 per cent in February due to trade uncertainty then caused by the virus.

Port of Tauranga result: Coronavirus concern pulls down profit guidance
A good day for Port of Tauranga shareholders as new frontiers crossed
Port of Tauranga first quarter cargo volumes dip but full year earnings outlook holds steady
Port of Tauranga breaks $100m profit mark with strong volume growth


The port is classified as an essential service and continued to operate under Government imposed alert level 4 coronavirus conditions but Cairns said some of its customers were classified as non-essential services and would suspend shipping during the current national lockdown.

"We comfortably paid our interim dividend of $40.8 million on March 20 2020. We have a strong balance sheet and continuing strong operating cashflows from our diversified business," said Cairns.

The company considered it prudent to suspend profit guidance for the time being, he said.

The company had total committed debt facilities of $560 million, of which $57.3m
is undrawn.

"Only $5m of these debt facilities mature in 2020. We have also secured an increase to, and extension of, our debt facilities that were maturing in January 2021. Our banking partners have been very supportive and we have experienced no issues
with the routine increase and extension of these facilities."

Port of Tauranga's focus was on protecting the health and safety of its people while
ensuring essential cargoes flowed unimpeded through the port.

"We are committed to ensuring that vital food, medical supplies and other cargoes get to those who need them," Cairns said.

The company also announced a seven-year extension to its partnership with New Zealand's largest containerised freight exporter, Kotahi.


It has also extended a lifeline to importers of urgent cargo during the lockdown, with measures to help prioritise identification of cargo and providing charges relief.

The measures by the listed port company will allow importers to identify imported cargo required for essential services before it arrives in the country so it can be handled and transported first.

The "dwell" charges deadline for priority cargo has been extended to provide relief to the port's import customers.

This means importers who normally have to pick up and remove containers within 36 hours now have 72 hours.

Chief executive Mark Cairns said non-essential cargo could temporarily be stored on or off-site until it can be collected by truck or transferred to the port's MetroPort in Auckland.

Non-essential cargoes would avoid dwell charges until April 26 - apart from one-off handling charges and power charges for refrigerated containers, he said.

"We take our role as an essential service very seriously and our focus is to ensure vital food, medical and other supplies can keep moving, Cairns said.

"We also understand the stresses and strains on people and organisations trying to deal with the current situation which has seen shipping delays, cancellations and other disruptions.

"We need the support and co-operation of importers and exports to help us manage the flow of cargo and avoid blocking the path of essential food, medicine, equipment and other supplies."

The port is ensuring its staff are safe with separation of work groups, enhanced cleaning regimes and protective equipment for its frontline staff such as marine pilots.

Strict border controls are in place. All international crew shore leave is prohibited and crew members must avoid close contact with port workers.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website