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S.C. State Ports Authority reports boost in earnings, cargo


By Matt Tomsic
mtomsic@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 16, 2013

Earnings, break-bulk and containers have increased during the first half of the S.C. State Ports Authority’s fiscal year, though some of the numbers haven’t lived up to expectations.

Revenues increased by 6.3% year-over-year to $68.6 million, and earnings increased 26.9% to $7.7 million, the ports authority reported Tuesday during its monthly board meeting. Those figures were 5.6% and 19.5% under plan, respectively.

Pier containers increased 10.7% year-over-year to 439,620, and pier tons increased 40.6%.

“Good numbers guys,” said board Chairman Bill Stern during the meeting. “You should feel good about that.”

The ports authority also welcomed 931 ships during the first six months, compared to 870 during the same period last year.

Ports CEO Jim Newsome updated the board on the impact of the dockworkers and ocean carrier negotiations, which broke down last year and nearly led to an East Coast dockworker strike that would have included Charleston. The two sides agreed to a contract extension that expires in February.

Newsome said the port received more shipments than usual in December because of carriers rushing cargo into ports before the potential strike, and the port could see a decline in January because of that.

“We’re going to see some lumpy comparisons in the next couple months,” Newsome said. “I figure we lost 2,000 to 3,000 containers.”

Newsome also highlighted the port’s growth during calendar year 2012. Charleston grew by 9.3% from January 2012 through November, the fastest of any East Coast port, according to the authority’s figures. For the entire calendar year, the Georgia Ports Authority grew at 0.4%, and the Virginia Port Authority grew at 9.8%, according to the S.C. State Ports Authority, which handled 1.5 million 20-foot-equivalent units, or TEUs, a common industry measurement.

“The Southeast continues to be a pretty good region for growth,” Newsome said. “We had a competiveness issue three years ago, and we have, I believe, successfully overcome that now.”

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