KUALA LUMPUR: After posting a weaker earnings performance in 2022, Westports Holdings Bhd forecast low single-digit positive container throughput in 2023, but struck a cautionary note in light of the ongoing headwinds.
"The forecast nevertheless entails a cautionary note as global economic momentum could be affected by various potentially unfavourable factors, such as higher inflation, interest rates and volatile markets," it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia.
For the year ended Dec 31, 2022, Westports posted a net profit of RM699.58mil, down from RM808.22mil in the previous year.
The group said in a separate statement the lower profit was attributed to a 69% increase in fuel cost, diesel purchases at an unsubsidised price, the absence of non-recurrent insurance recoveries, and higher human resources cost as the company implemented the revised minimum wage earlier than required in January 2022.
On a per share basis, earnings was 20.52 sen in 2022 as compared with 23.7 sen in 2021.
Revenue however was reported at RM2.07bil, slightly higher than RM2.02bil in the previous year.
In the fourth quarter of 2022 alone, Westports registered a net profit of RM235.04mil, slightly higher than RM222.88mil in the the previous corresponding quarter.
Revenue in the quarter was RM521.14mil, up from RM503.9mil in the comparative quarter.
Westports noted multiple headwinds over the year, some of which showed signs of moderation while others possibly contributed to longer-term structural shifts.
Against such a backdrop, the company said it handled a container throughput of 10.05 million TEUs in 2022.
"The lower transhipment containers handled of 6.08 million TEUs is a part-reflection of the challenging global external conditions and the consequent container shipping companies’ operational and service adjustments," said group managing director Datuk Ruben Gnanalingam Abdullah.
According to Gnanalingam, the domestic economy showed relatively better resilience as export-oriented sectors benefited from increased competitiveness with a weaker local currency.
"Specific sectors have benefited from regionalisation and foreign direct investments as the latter capitalised on the nation’s competitive advantage. The gateway volume increased by 9% to 3.97 million TEUs, with notable growth during the third and fourth quarters of 2022.
"It was a record-breaking year in the conventional segment; the company moved 12.12 million tonnes of cargo. There was a notable increase in the liquid bulk category as the growth was supported by the new Liquid Bulk Terminal 5 (LBT5) jetty that can accommodate Very Large Gas Carriers (VLGC)," he said.