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Hellaby posts 60% rise in first half profit, bolstered by acquisitions

Hellaby Holdings [NZX: HBY], the diversified investment company, posted a 60 percent rise in first half profit, bolstered by recent acquisitions.

Net profit rose to $9.9 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, from $6.2 million in the year earlier period, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Revenue rose 44 percent to $351.6 million.

Hellaby's latest earnings included a full six months contribution from its 85-percent stake in oil and gas services business Contract Resources and three months from Federal Batteries which it acquired in September. The company said it is on track to meet market expectations for full year earnings and the next significant lift in profitability will come from further acquisitions.

"It is the first real demonstration of the value being generated by the group's growth strategy, reflecting both the benefits of portfolio expansion, and also the advantages of diversification across different geographies and sectors," chairman John Maasland said.

Hellaby is expected to produce full-year net profit of $28.7 million in 2014, from $18.2 million in 2013, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

Shares in Hellaby slipped 1.5 percent to $3.23 and have advanced 0.9 percent this year.

In the first half, Hellaby's funding costs rose $1.8 million, reflecting its debt funded acquisitions, the company said. Still, its 24 percent gearing remained well within its target of less than 45 percent, it said.

Hellaby said it aims to improve the performance of its footwear division in the second half after it was the only unit where first half earnings lagged the previous period. Footwear earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization fell to $700,000 in the first half from $2.5 million in the previous period as sales slipped 5 percent reflecting increased competition and weak market conditions, it said.

The company will pay a dividend of 5.5 cents a share on April 11, up from 5 cents the year earlier.

(BusinessDesk)