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Hamburger Hafen Profit Falls on Terminal Expansion Costs

Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Hamburger Hafen & Logistik AG, the handler of about three in four containers at Hamburg’s port, posted a 16 percent drop in nine-month profit as modernization of a terminal drove up costs. The shares fell the most in three months.

Earnings before interest and taxes fell to 121.4 million euros ($163 million) from 143.8 million euros, the Hamburg-based company said today in a statement. The terminal operator reiterated a full-year forecast of Ebit at the lower end of a range of 155 million euros to 175 million euros.

“The additional expenses for personnel and equipment incurred by the delayed dredging of the navigation channel of the river Elbe, together with the costs of modernizing and expanding the container terminal Burchardkai led in large part to the year-on-year decline in the operating result,” the company said.

HHLA shares fell as much as 4.4 percent, the most since Aug. 2, and traded 2.8 percent lower at 17.43 euros as of 10 a.m. in Frankfurt, valuing the company at 1.3 billion euros.

Hamburg, Europe’s second-biggest container port, has been handling an increasing number of big box ships, while a dredging project to deepen and widen the navigation passage of the Elbe connecting the port and the North Sea has been delayed by an environmentalist lawsuit.

Hamburg Economy Minister Frank Horch said on Nov. 8 that he doesn’t expect Germany’s Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig to issue a ruling on the dredging dispute this year, while he rejected speculation the case may have to be discussed at a European court.

Volume Increases

Nine-month container throughput at Hamburg and the port operator’s terminals in Odessa, Ukraine, rose 5.1 percent to 5.7 million standard 20-foot containers, the company said today. Revenue increased 2.5 percent to 868 million euros. The company reiterated a full-year forecast of 1.1 billion euros to 1.2 billion euros in sales.

Growth in market share “resulted primarily from the substantial increase of 10.1 percent in feeder traffic to the Baltic states and Russia, as well as the renewed increase of 6.5 percent in the handling of containers from and to the Far East,” Hamburger Hafen said.

New rail and road connections in Germany as well as to Austria, Switzerland and Polish sea ports boosted container transport at its HHLA Intermodal operations by 21 percent to 883,000 20-foot equivalent units, the company said.

“We are increasingly focusing on our own rolling stock and inland terminals,” Chairman Klaus-Dieter Peters said in the statement. That way the company is gaining market share in the transport business and bundling cargo flows for its container terminals, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Brautlecht in Hamburg at nbrautlecht@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net

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