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Auckland Airport lifts 1H profit 12%, hikes FY forecast

Auckland International Airport [NZX: AIA], the country's main gateway, boosted first-half profit 12 percent as new routes and increased capacity stoked passenger activity, and the hub is now expecting bigger annual earnings as a result.

Net profit rose to $85.9 million, or 6.49 cents per share, in the six months ended Dec. 31 from $76.9 million, or 5.82 cents, a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. The earnings were in line with a forecast by First NZ Capital.

Underlying earnings, which strip out one-off charges and revaluation changes, climbed 14 percent to $86.7 million. Auckland Airport raised its guidance for full-year earnings to between $166 million and $172 million, from a previous range of between $160 million and $170 million.

"The company is pleased to record an interim result which has exceeded expectations and builds on our recent strong performance," chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden said. "We have renewed our focus on becoming a southern hub airport for the Pacific Rim, and our focus on growing travel markets has resulted in new routes and additional seat capacity."

Last week the airport's shareholders approved a $454 million capital return via a share cancellation. The company undertook the return after several strong years left it with an inefficient mix of debt and equity.

The company's board didn't envisage paying an interim dividend while carrying out the capital return at the same time.

The shares last traded at $3.64, and have edged up 3.1 percent this year.

Auckland Airport's aeronautical unit boosted income 8.8 percent to $120.5 million and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation climbed 12 percent to $86.8 million. The retail unit increased revenue 3.9 percent to $90.8 million while EBITDA rose 2.6 percent to $82.8 million. The property business boosted revenue 9.5 percent to $24.3 million and earnings 8.9 percent to $18.3 million.

Van der Heyden said the increased aeronautical income was underpinned by higher international and domestic passenger volumes and growth in car parking revenue, while the property unit delivered a solid gain in rental income.

Auckland Airport increased international passenger movements 4.7 percent to 4.08 million in the half, while domestic passenger movements rose 4.8 percent to 3.52 million. Aircraft movements edged up 0.9 percent to 78,959.

International passenger movements at the Cairns airport fell 6.9 percent to 326,146, though domestic passenger numbers rose 4.7 percent to 2.12 million. Mackay domestic passenger numbers were down 3.8 percent to 582,371. The North Queensland Airports boosted net profit 19 percent to A$11.2 million.

Queenstown Airport boosted international passenger numbers rose 29 percent to 179,153, though domestic numbers were down 4.8 percent to 464,786. The South Island hub lifted net profit 23 percent to $3.8 million.

Auckland Airport's share of profits from its associates, including the North Queensland Airports, Queenstown Airport and Novotel Hotel, rose 11 percent to $4.9 million.

(BusinessDesk)

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