Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hueneme Port Autos Flat Through 2012

The niche Port of Hueneme, which for nearly twenty years has been the final resting place of breakbulk customers shooed away by the container-centric Southern California ports, is now facing the full sting of the global economic downturn.

During the annual "state of the port" presentation made Monday, officials forecast that the port's all-important automobile import sector is not likely to pick up until 2012 or 2013.

Despite this, the president of the port's harbor commission remains confident that the turnaround will come.

“Obviously, I can’t look into a crystal ball,” said commission president Jesse Ramirez. “But by all indicators, by 2012 we’ll be looking pretty good.”

Ramirez said that despite some quarterly increases in business at the port over the past year, the numbers for the entire fiscal year still remain down more than 20 percent over year-ago period. In addition, the port is projecting that cargo volumes will remain stagnant through 2012, with any hopes of an increase coming after this period.

And for Hueneme, lost cargo volumes are lost revenues as the port makes its money on charges based on the tonnage weight of cargo.

While produce such as bananas and pineapples, another staple of Hueneme's business, has remained fairly strong during the auto sector collapse, port officials can not help but point to the fact that cars bring in a much higher level of revenue. For example, a ton of bananas will generate about $4.50 a ton in revenue for the port, while a ton of automobiles will generate $22 for the port.

All told, the port reported a more than 10 percent drop off in total revenue for the 2008-2009 fiscal year.