Qube

Qube invests in rail despite COVID hit to profits in 2020

Qube has reported a net profit drop of over 50 per cent due to the impact of COVID-19, bushfires, and floods during the 2020 financial year.

These impacts were offset by growths in Qube’s revenue and the commencement of new rail contracts.

During the past financial year, Qube began rail operations from the IMEX terminal at the Moorebank Logistics Park as companies including Woolworths committed to significant distribution centres at the site.

Qube also signed new contracts with Shell and BlueScope Steel. For BlueScope, Qube will provide interstate rail haulage services as part of a 10-year contract and intermodal operations at Qube’s North Dynon facility in Melbourne. To deliver the contract Qube will invest $73 million in new rollingstock and infrastructure, as well as leased equipment.

Qube managing director Maurice James said that the company’s overall performance was sound.

“The events of 2020 tested the strength and resilience of the company in ways which no-one could have predicted. This result once again demonstrates the success of our diversification strategy which protected the company as markets were hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“We were also able to adapt rapidly as an organisation to protect the health and safety of our people, deliver on customer requirements and minimise the economic damage to the Group. We are also well positioned for growth post pandemic with conservative gearing, and a strong balance sheet with substantial funding capacity.”

Rail will continue to play a major part in Qube’s operations during the next financial year as the company constructs the interstate rail terminal at Moorebank Precinct West along with further warehousing space. Further capital expenditure is planned in the 2021 financial year on rail terminals, precinct infrastructure and locomotives and wagons for the BlueScope contract.

Operations at Qube’s intermodal terminals will also become more automated as the company shifts from manual to automated mode at the IMEX rail terminal.

Aurizon

Aurizon posts increase in profit, earnings with limited COVID impact

Aurizon has increased its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) by 10 per cent on the previous year’s results and a 12 per cent increase in profit.

This improvement was largely driven by increased earnings from Aurizon’s managing of the Central Queensland Coal Network (CQCN) and strong performance of the company’s bulk business.

These results include the impact of COVID-19 on the business, which managing director and CEO Andrew Harding said had limited impact.

“Despite the emergence of COVID-19 in the second half of FY2020, the Company has delivered a solid operational and financial performance with no material impact as a result of the pandemic,” said Harding.

With much of Aurizon’s business involving the haulage of metallurgical coal, consistent steel production in China and a rebound of steel production in India in May and June helped the freight operator through the COVID-19 period. In addition, a drop in US metallurgical coal exports contributed.

In Aurizon’s coal business, it added new customers including Peabody and Bluescope and added volume in the contract with Coronado.

On the bulk side of the business, Aurizon added contracts with BGC for cement products from Kalgoorlie. Aurizon extended its contracts with South32 Cannington and Incitec Pivot, both on the Mt Isa corridor. Aurizon began the operation and maintenance of a ballast cleaning machine for Rio Tinto in the Pilbara and there was an increase in demand from Mineral Resources. These led to a 21 per cent increase in revenue from bulk operations.

In Aurizon’s management of the CQCN there was a shortfall of volume. Volumes are expected to be lower in the next year due to COVID-19.

Aurizon also reported on its safety record over the 2019-2020 financial year. While there was a 10 per cent improvement in the total recordable injury frequency rate, there was an 8 per cent deterioration in rail process safety performance.

Qube container. Photo: Qube

Qube purchases four Australian-made locomotives

Qube has awarded the contract to build four locomotives to UGL, part of the CIMIC Group.

The four locomotives will be built in Newcastle at UGL’s workshops there, said UGL’s managing director Jason Spears.

“These contracts extend our light rail capability alongside our Adelaide heavy rail presence and commence our relationship with Qube Logistics. UGL has a strong reputation for quality and safety and we look forward to exhibiting that through these manufacturing, maintenance and operations contracts.”

Qube has recently signed extensions to its freight rail logistics business. Late last year, the company announced that it had signed contracts with Shell Australia and Bluescope Steel. In its Half Year results announcement, Qube indicated that it would spend $73 million on new rollingstock and infrastructure to support the Bluescope contract.

Additionally, its Moorebank Logistics Park began rail operations with a major warehouse for retailer Target.

Further agreements for tenants at other sections of the Park are in the final stages of being negotiated.

According to UGL, its base in Newcastle was key to the purchase by Qube.

“UGL’s long history of manufacturing is key to our success in Newcastle. We’re proud that UGL has had a presence in in NSW for more than 120 years, including a strong presence in Newcastle.”

The news follows the announcement that UGL, along with Transit Systems and John Holland will operate the Adelaide tram network from July 2020.