Associated British Ports - Britain's biggest ports operator - yesterday said it expected underlying pretax profit for the current year to be in line with market expectations.
The firm, which owns the Hams Hall distribution complex near Coleshill, said earnings from UK ports and transport activities were forecast to increase by around three per cent.
AB Ports also said two major projects at the Port of Immingham, involving a total investment of #87 million, were on budget and on schedule to become operational in first half of 2006. In a trading statement ahead of year-end results, AB Ports added that its core UK ports business had benefited from continued overall volume growth and from cost reduction efforts implemented last year.
The company reiterated that it expects roll-on/roll-off volumes and stevedoring activity to be lower in the current year than in 2004.
In a statement it said: "The group's #400 million, ten-year investment plan for our UK ports business remains on track.
"At the Port of Immingham, construction of the #27.5 million roll-on/roll-off facility and the #59.5 million extension of the Humber International Terminal, the UK's premier coal import facility, is proceeding well.
"Both projects are on budget and on schedule to become operational in the first half of 2006.
"Following the Govern-ment's 'minded to approve' notification earlier this year, we expect to receive a final decision on our planned #30 million to #35 million development of a shortsea riverside container terminal at the Port of Hull shortly," the statement added. ..SUPL: