Seaport operator DP World said Tuesday that cargo volumes at its docks rose 10 percent in the third quarter of 2011 as trade accelerated at its emerging markets ports.
The world's third-largest port operator said it handled the equivalent of 14.4 million standard 20-foot shipping containers between July and September. That's up from 13.1 million containers it lifted over the same period last year.
The Dubai-based cargo handler attributed the gains to growth at ports in Asia, Africa, Latin America and its home market in the United Arab Emirates. Recently acquired ports in Suriname and capacity increases at cargo terminals in Peru and China also boosted business, the company said.
DP World manages more than 60 cargo terminals on six continents, giving it a window on trade patterns around the world. It is heavily concentrated in fast-growing emerging markets, and runs the Middle East's largest port in Dubai.
Executives had warned in August that the foggy outlook for the world economy made it difficult to predict how business would shape up in the second half of the year. Tuesday's results suggest demand may not have been as weak as feared.
"The third quarter was the strongest quarter last year," Chairman Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem told reporters. "So 10 percent growth on that ... is a good achievement."
Despite the gains, executives remain cautious about the future.
CEO Mohammed Sharaf said the outlook for the global economy and the shipping industry remains uncertain, including into 2012.
"What we've been hearing from our customers ... (is) basically negative news," he said.
Executives nonetheless expect to post annual results for 2011 in line with market expectations. Analysts on average are predicting DP World to earn at least $1.2 billion before taxes and other deductions this year, the company said.