The net profit of India’s biggest private shipping firm, Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd, jumped 31.27% to Rs240.92 crore for the fourth quarter ended 31 March from Rs183.52 crore a year earlier, as higher utilization of tankers and dry bulk carriers, combined with a 50% rise in the cost of hiring the latter, helped offset lower tanker rates.
The revenue of Mumbai-based crude and products tanker operator rose 7.8%in the January-March quarter of 2007 to Rs592.7 crore from Rs549.9 crore in the year-ago period.
Great Eastern’s net profit for the year ended March rose 5.3% to Rs883.3 crore from Rs838.6 crore a year earlier. However, its revenue dropped 3.9% to Rs2,251 crore from Rs2,342 crore last year.
Great Eastern’s shares fell 1.4% to Rs256.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The company’s board recommended a final dividend of Rs4.50 per share for the year. With an interim dividend of Rs4 per share and Rs3 per share paid earlier, the total dividend for the year works out to Rs11.50 per share.
“Continuing high oil prices and an abnormally warm winter in the Northern hemisphere slowed down demand for oil.
Besides, production cuts imposed by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec), coupled with draw-down of product inventories, resulted in relatively soft tanker rates,” Great Eastern said in a statement.
Crude carriers recorded an average charter rate of around $30,551 per day (approx Rs12,52,591) during the fourth quarter as against $37,269 per day a year earlier, while product tankers earned an average charter rate of around $21,261 per day during the quarter as compared with $21,355 per day a year ago. But a substantial rise in rates for moving dry bulk commodities such as steel, iron ore and coal helped improve overall performance.
Dry bulk carriers earned an average charter rate of around $21,629 per day during the fourth quarter, compared with $14,295 per day a year ago due to strong demand for commodities from Asia, particularly China.
Besides, shipping bottlenecks at Brazilian iron ore ports and Australian ports, including at Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal export harbour, are cutting the supply of vessels, leading to sharp rise in freight rates for moving dry bulk cargo.
Great Eastern owns 34 tankers and 12 dry bulk carriers. It is building five new product tankers at a cost of $239 million.