Box Business

Aug 07, 2009 (LBO) – Container volumes rose again in July 2009 at a Colombo port terminal partly owned by John Keells Holdings whose transportation business has been hit by the trade slump and loss of a ship fuel monopoly. Relatively low margin transhipment traffic accounts for a growing proportion of SAGT’s total throughput, they said.

JKH’s transportation business has been its main source of profits in recent years.

But the group’s profits from transportation have fallen sharply in the last few quarter after it lost an effective monopoly on ship fuel or bunkers on a court order and the trade slump reduced earnings from SAGT. According to statistics released by South Asia Gateway Terminals (SAGT) and analysts, the July 2009 container volumes were up 3.7 percent to 158,236 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units or containers) from a year ago.

It was the terminal’s highest monthly throughput, surpassing the previous monthly record of 156,122 boxes in June 2009, and the third monthly rise in volumes compared with last year after five consecutive monthly falls.

However, analysts said, the bulk of the containers was transhipment cargo on which margins are lower than domestic shipments.

John Keells Holding