DP World, the global ports operator based in Dubai, delivered a strong financial performance in 2011, boosted by the proceeds of the sale of its Australian business, despite challenging economic conditions towards the end of the year.
Profits for the year came in at $751m, compared with $451 in 2010. But even after stripping out the cash from the Australian deal, and other items like joint venture profits, earnings of $459m were significantly ahead of the previous year's $374m and ahead of most market expectations.
The shares, however, fell 2 per cent in early trading on the Nasdaq Dubai market to $11.35. DPW also has a listing on the London stock market.
After taking account of the Australian sale, revenue fell slightly to $2.978 billion, but the underlying performance showed a 14 per cent increase. Gross throughput, measured by traffic in twenty foot equivalent containers (TEU), was 10 per cent ahead at 54.7 million TEUs.
The dividend is increased from 17 cents to 24 cents. DPW is 80 per cent owned by the Dubai government via the Dubai World conglomerate.
DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: "DP World delivered an excellent improvement in profitability during 2011 to $751 million after separately disclosed items. This improvement in profitability is a reflection of our strategy, which sees us focus on the faster growing emerging markets and more profitable origin and destination (O&D) and gateway cargo."
Chief executive Mohammed Sharaf said: "2011 has been another good year for DP World with the second half of the year delivering a better performance than the first half. This improved performance was achieved despite a deteriorating global economic backdrop in the second half." He added that global macroeconomic uncertainty continued into 2012.
He said the flagship terminal at Jebel Ali in Dubai continued to deliver sustainable growth.
Roger Elliott, analyst at Citigroup, said the DPW share valuation, trading at a discount to other ports groups in the emerging markets, was "highly attractive"
He added: "We believe the discount is due to the investor nerves over prospects for the main east west trades and ignoring the strength of minor trades (Asia Middle East, Africa, LATAM) which are key to DPW profits and to geopolitical fears."