Dubai-based global ports operator, DP World, has posted a positive set of financial figures for 2018. Profitability due to the owners of the company was up 5.1%, at US$ 1.27 billion, while revenues were up 20%, to US$ 5.6 billion, for the company overall. On a like-for-like basis, excluding business acquisitions and the impact of new facilities coming onstream, revenues were up 4.2% and profits by 7.6% compared to 2017.
These fairly impressive financial figures were secured despite a relatively flat performance for the group in container traffic terms. Gross container throughput across the DP World network of ports was 71.419 million teu, a modest 1.9% improvement on the year before.
The strong increase in revenues reflects the acquisition of a number of businesses in the course of the year, including Drydocks World Dubai, Dubai Maritime City, Cosmos Agencia Maritima and Continental Warehousing Corporation, as well as a consolidation of activities in the Brazilian port of Santos. The group also recently acquired the Unifeeder short sea operation to strengthen its logistics capability in northern Europe.
Last year the group made capital expenditures of US$ 908 million, which was below original expectations. However, the company says it expects that in 2019 capital expenditures will be around US$ 1.4 billion. This includes investment in facilities in the UAE, Egypt, Somaliland and Senegal, as well as in Ecuador. A DP World statement said: “We continue to focus on maintaining a disciplined approach to investment to ensure we remain the trade partner of choice as well as strengthening our product offering to play a wider role in the global supply chain as a trade enabler.”
The DP World Board has recommended increasing the dividend payable to shareholders by 5%, to US$ 365 million, at 43 cents per share. This is in line with past policy of maintaining a payout ratio of around 30%.
The company added that the current year has started off with trading in line with expectations. Despite an uncertain short-term outlook, due to trade wars and volatile geopolitical situations, it is optimistic that its portfolio will be resilient to any adverse trends and that recent acquisitions and investments will generate increased contributions during the course of 2019.