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Dubai port operator DP World posts 26 per cent gain in first-half profit to $332 million

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Dubai-based port operator DP World said Thursday its profit rose 26 per cent in the first half of the year as it was able to process more cargo thanks to new capacity and a pick-up in global trade.

The government-backed cargo handler said it earned $332 million in profit attributable to its owners during the first six months of 2014, up from $264 million during the same period a year earlier.

DP World ranks among the largest port operators, with a heavy emphasis on fast-growing markets in the developing world. It operates more than 65 sea cargo terminals on six continents, with additional projects being developed in India, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. That broad geographic footprint gives it a window onto trade flows around the world.

Its holdings include the new London Gateway port in Britain and Embraport in Brazil. It also runs Dubai's sprawling Jebel Ali seaport, the busiest in the Middle East.

"The addition of new capacity and a pick-up in global trade has resulted in a return to robust volume growth, which has translated into an impressive financial performance," Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said.

Revenue for the first half increased to $1.66 billion, up from $1.51 billion a year earlier.

Increased cargo volumes were a key driver of those sales. The company handled the equivalent of 13.9 million standard 20-foot shipping containers at ports it controls during the first half of the year, compared to 12.8 million containers during the same period a year earlier.

In the short term, CEO Mohammed Sharaf cautioned that geopolitical issues could prove challenging through the end of the year. But executives voiced confidence in the company's future, saying it is well-placed to take advantage of the industry's long-term potential.

Sharaf described the company's finances as strong, saying its high cash flow gives it the ability to invest in growth "and the flexibility to make new investments should the right opportunities arise."

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Follow Adam Schreck on Twitter at www.twitter.com/adamschreck.

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