Datacom annual profit rises as new services lift sales, revenue hits $1.2b

Craig Boyce said the company's systems business continued to generate the most revenue and profit for the firm.

Datacom Group lifted annual profit 61 percent as the next generation of services helped the country's biggest IT services provider boost sales and fatten margins, paving the way for a bigger dividend.

Profit rose to $43.7 million, or $6.63 per share, in the 12 months ended March 31, from $27.2 million, or $4.09 per share, a year earlier, the Wellington-based firm's financial statements show. Revenue rose 9.8 percent to $1.16 billion, and gross profit of $701.5 million was at a margin of 60.6 percent, up from 59.8 percent in 2016. Of that revenue, 5.2 percent, or $59.7 million, was from its biggest customer, compared to 8.5 percent, or $90 million, a year earlier.

"Datacom's growth in the 2016/17 year has been the direct result of long-term strategic investments across a number of areas in order to position Datacom strongly to deliver for customers into the future," chairman Craig Boyce said in his report. "Investments in new generations of network services has started to stimulate returns, as have public cloud transitions and transformations."

The firm toppled Spark New Zealand as the country's biggest IT services provider in 2015, on an expanding footprint on both sides of the Tasman and last year opened four new offices to give it a bigger presence across Asia.

Boyce said Datacom's management team was preparing for more growth across Asia in the coming period, "expanding upon Datacom's provision of cloud-based software, market enablement, and platform management services to customers in over 30 countries."

The board declared annual dividends of $3.10 a share, or $20.4 million, up from $2.30, or $15 million, in 2016.

The IT services firm had cash and equivalents of $44.6 million as at March 31, having increased operating cash flow 5.8 percent to $73.4 million. It spent $36.3 million on buying property, plant, and equipment, and reported a net outflow of $30.3 million from its financing activities.

Boyce said the company's systems business continued to generate the most revenue and profit for the firm and was benefiting from bringing its Australian and New Zealand units under one leadership team, while the software development business was a "strong performer". Meantime, the payrolls business boosted earnings and revenue by expanding its product offering, he said.

"During the 2016/17 year, Datacom embarked on a significant business transformation journey which will touch every aspect of operations and will deliver a more efficient, higher performing and customer centric organisation," Boyce said. "Early results of this transformation have already been realised through continued sales success and partnerships with a significant number of new customers, each with fresh IT challenges."

Datacom boosted its staff numbers 4.7 percent to 4,880 in the year, for an 8.4 percent increase in salaries and wages to $468.2 million. Some 2,857 people were employed in New Zealand or about 8.1 percent of the country's 35,100 employed in information media and telecommunications. The company's bill for contractors and temporary staff rose 5.9 percent to $19.8 million.

Termination costs shrank to $571,000 in the 2017 year from $1.2 million in 2016.