Northern ports close Q1 in the black

Monday, May 8, 2006

The northern Chilean ports of Arica, Iquique and Antofagasta closed the first quarter of this year in the black, port operators reported to the country's securities regulator (SVS).

Terminal Puerto Arica (TPA), the private operator of northern Region I port Arica, posted a US$540,000 net profit in the first three month of 2006, up 6.3% from the same period last year.

Revenue rose 17% to US$3.3mn, while increased operating costs pushed operating profits down 11.2% to US$684,000. Lower non-operating losses and taxes helped boost the bottom line.

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TPA took over operations from the port's state-run operator Empresa Portuaria Arica in October 2004 under a 20-year concession.

Inversiones Cosmos controls 40% of TPA, while Empresas Navieras (25%), Peru's Ransa (20%) and Chile's SAAM (15%) also have stakes in the operator.

The port moves over 1Mt/y of cargo and also receives cruise ships; 65% of cargo loaded onto ships comes from Bolivia.


Empresa Portuaria Iquique (EPI), the state-owned operator of Iquique port also in Region I, saw net profits increase 15.3% to 328mn pesos (US$638,000) in the period.

Revenue dipped 5.73% to 1.32bn pesos and operating profit grew 6.9% to 743mn pesos. Lower non-operating losses due primarily to a drop in currency exchange losses helped offset the revenue drop.

In the first three months of this year, total cargo movement at Iquique port fell 4.72% to 488,555t compared to 1Q05, with EPI moving 133,849t (down 13.6%) and private operator Iquique Terminal Internacional (ITI) moving 354,706t (down 0.6%), ITI said in its first quarter earnings analysis.

Goods to and from the Iquique duty free area (Zofri) make up an important percentage of the cargo that passes through the port, plus products from the region's mining and fishing industries.

ITI, which operates quay number 2, saw 1Q06 net profits drop 15.7% to US$569,000 from the same period last year. Revenue grew 22.2% to US$3.3mn and operating profit slid 0.34% to US$792,000 due to higher operating costs.

In its filing, the private operator said that although it does not expect a significant increase in Bolivian cargo in the short term due principally to unfavorable highway connectivity, it does expect an important upswing in the medium term once a road paving project to connect the port with the neighboring country is completed.

SAAM and Spain's Dragados make up ITI, which picked up its 20-year concession - extendable to 30 years - in 2000.


Lower costs and expenses helped Empresa Portuaria Antofagasta (EPA), the state-owned operator of Region II port Antofagasta, increase its earnings 1.23% to 426mn pesos in the quarter compared to January-March 2005.

Revenue dipped 9.3% to 1.24bn pesos and operating profit rose 1.6% to 650mn pesos.

In 1Q06, the port moved a total 515,225t, down 0.7% from the same quarter 2005. Of the total cargo, private operator Antofagasta Terminal Internacional (ATI) moved 92%, EPA said. The port moves primarily mineral products, as well as Bolivian goods.

ATI, which operates quay number 2, saw 1Q06 net profits slump 36.6% to US$499,000 from the same period last year. Revenue was up 8.39% to US$4.18mn but operating profit fell 25.4% to US$693,000 due to higher operating costs.

The private operator was awarded its 20-year concession in January 2003 and began operating at the port in March of that year.

SAAM and local group Empresas Navieras each control 35% of ATI, and compatriot rail company FCAB the balance.