Hutchison Port Trust Holdings (HPHT) has reported slightly lower revenue of HK$10.7 billion, down 3.7% for the year ended Dec 2020. However, thanks to lower operating and finance costs, earnings for the same period jumped 57.4% to HK$831.4 million.

HPHT plans to pay a final distribution of 7.7 HK cents per unit, versus 5 HK cents per unit in the year earlier period. With this, HPHT’s total distribution for FY2020 will be 12 HK cents, versus 11 HK cents paid for whole of FY2019. 

HPHT calls 2020 a “challenging year” due to the “interruption to trade” in the earlier part of the year because of the pandemic. Yet, there are signs of “significant upturn” in its business in the later half.

SEE: Higher dividends ahead for Hutchison Port Holdings Trust with sustained recovery: DBS

For example, the increase in outbound cargoes to the US and the Europe in the second half of 2020 was up 24% and 18% year on year, respectively, due to higher demand for medical consumables. Cargo capacity cuts by airlines helped send demand to the ships too.

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HPHT’s terminals handled a total of 23.67 million TEUs for FY2020, up 2% from 23.3 million handled in FY2019. 

Even with the improved numbers in the later half of the year, HPHT prefers to remain cautious. “It is unclear as to whether these factors will continue to drive cargo volumes in 2021 given the unpredictable economic trajectories of the European and USA economies.”

“Consequently, in view of the continuing supply chain disruptions and economic uncertainties, management remains cautious about future cargo volumes and will continue to focus on operational efficiency and cost saving measures,” says HPHT.

HPHT closed Feb 8 at 23 cents, up 2.27% for the day.