Of special concern to investors is last year's pounds 109m acquisition, perceived as too expensive, of US car-handler American Port Services. Mr Lerenius admits it will be a tough slog to boost US business.
The core UK operations, principally the running of 23 ports, appear sound, however. Revenue per tonne gained in the first half, even as volumes slipped. There is guarded optimism too about the property development operations, which should see a clutch of second-half sales extend profit beyond last year's pounds 6.8m. The group also pledges to push on with share-buybacks, with a further pounds 33m to follow the pounds 117m spent in the 15 months to June.
While the initiatives are positive, they will take time to bear fruit. Forecasts estimate full-year pre-tax profit at pounds 114m and earnings per share at 24.4p. After their recent ride above pounds 3, the shares appear pricey. Investors should take profits.Reuse content