Eastland Group posts gain in full-year profit, lifts dividend

Profit rose to a record $15.2 million.

Full-year profit rose 7.8 % for Eastland Group, the community trust-owned company that runs Gisborne's port, airport and electricity distribution businesses.

On the back of the profit rise, the group is paying a bigger dividend and planning for increased investments.

Profit rose to a record $15.2 million for the year ended March, from $14.1 million a year earlier, the company says. It didn't immediately provide details of the performance of its portfolio of businesses.

Eastland Group’s operations include Eastland Port, Gisborne Airport and Eastland Network, the electricity network for Gisborne, Wairoa and the East Coast, Eastland Generation, which produces electricity from hydro, diesel and geothermal plants, and a property development business.

In December, it emerged as an 11 % shareholder in online electricity retailer Flick Electric after subscribing for about $2 million of stock.

The company has assets of $422 million, up from about $80 million in 2003, when it bought the port company.

It paid the trust a fully-imputed dividend of $5.6 million in the latest year, up from $5 million in 2015, and interest payments on its capital notes of $2.1 million, down from $2.6 million the previous year. The trust subscribed for $30 million of the notes in April 2010.

"The businesses we operate require a large amount of up-front capital investment to earn returns over a long period of time," says chief executive Matt Todd. "Over the next five years, Eastland Group plans to invest $123.5 million in local infrastructure."