THE pre-tax profit of Hutchison Whampoa`s subsidiary, Hutchison Port Holdings, fell 33 per cent year on year in the first half to HK$5.76 billion (US$722.4 million) on revenues of HK$141 billion, which were down 20 per cent.
The world`s largest container terminal operator`s earnings from mainland China and Hong Kong operations dropped 24 per cent in the first six months while its European pre-tax profits fell 40 per cent and its terminals in other Asian ports suffered a 22 per cent decline.
Hong Kong-based HPH, whose parent Hutchison Whampoa is largely owned by chairman Li Ka-shing, accounted for 25 per cent of group earnings before interest and taxes.
"The sharp reduction in global trade that started in the fourth quarter of last year continued into the first quarter of 2009. During the second quarter, volumes generally stabilised, albeit at levels well below 2008, said Mr Li in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange reporting first half results.
"This decline has adversely affected the results of the ports. The division handled a total throughput of 30.3 million TEU in the first six months of 2009, eight per cent lower than that of the same period last year," he said in the statement.
"In the first half of 2009, the impact of the decline of the global economy adversely affected several of the group`s global businesses. However, with the support of central government`s initiatives, the mainland economy maintained healthy domestic demand and the impact of economic factors affecting Hong Kong have been largely mitigated.
"The global economy has not regained its strength and in this difficult economic environment, the group will continue to focus on maintaining strict operational and financial discipline. The group`s liquidity remains healthy," said Mr Li.
Credit Suisse analyst Cusson Leung told Bloomberg: "The first half was really bad. The second half may be better as we have already seen a rebound in exports at Shanghai and Shenzhen."
Hutchison Port`s terminal operations serve 25 countries. Hutchison Port, 20 per cent-owned by PSA International Pte, has interests in 300 berths in 49 ports worldwide, according to its website.