Company results so far: Positive signs as Covid recovery kicks in

Skellerup’s share price is up over 100 per cent over the 52 weeks to Feb 23. Photo / Supplied

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Retirement village owner-operator Summerset Group pushed up its bottom line profit 32 per cent but underlying profit fell 7 per cent when the company spent more during the pandemic. Net profit after tax, which includes unrealised property revaluations, rose 32 per cent to $230.8 million for the year to December 31 but full-year underlying profit was $98.3m. The net uplift was driven by major revaluation rises of $221.1m.
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Sky TV reported a 234 per cent jump in first half net profit to $39.6 million (from last year’s $11.9m) on the back of an 80 per cent spike in its streaming business, which includes Neon, Sky Sport Now and RugbyPass, and a stabilisation of its satellite business. Streamers continue to spend less than satellite customers, however, and revenue fell 7 per cent to $356.9m.
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Power generator and retailer Mercury raised its first-half profit and dividend but said the dry weather would affect its annual earnings. The company’s operating earnings – EBITDAF – for the six months to December 31 were $294 million, up $36m, driven by higher energy margins, additional trading profits and cost control, but partially offset by a 108 gigawatt per hour fall in overall generation. Net profit rose $47m to $130m. Mercury declared a fully imputed interim dividend of 6.8 cents per share, up 6 per cent on the half-year 2020 dividend.
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Financial services firm Heartland Group Holdings lifted first-half net profit 10.6 per cent but declared a slightly lower interim dividend due to restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank. The company, which operates Heartland Bank in New Zealand and a reverse mortgage business in Australia, posted a net profit of $44.1m in the six months ended December, up from $39.9m for the previous corresponding period. After stripping out one-off items, the underlying net profit was $43.2m, up 13.4 per cent. Heartland declared an interim dividend of 4c per share, down from 4.5c.
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While Chorus was able to keep UFB fibre running smoothly during lockdowns, as the work-from-home boom saw broadband spike, the overall softening in demand, pinned on immigration, saw net profit after tax fall from $31 million in the first half of 2020 to $24m. The direct impact cost of Covid to Chorus, initially put at $10m, was now estimated at $6m to $7m. Revenue fell from $483m to $473m and ebitda eased from $332m to $323m. A 10.4c per share dividend was declared for the first half. The company reiterated its full-year dividend guidance of 25cps.
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Express package and information management company Freightways said a decline in office activity during Covid-19 lockdowns was a factor in the 25 per cent fall in its first-half net profit to $21.9 million. The company said a 29 per cent lift in revenue was driven by the inclusion of Big Chill in the group’s result as well as strong growth in courier volumes in New Zealand and medical waste volumes in Australia. Freightways returned to paying dividends with a 15.5 cent interim payout, up from 15c a year earlier.
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Less spectacular property revaluations pushed real estate specialist Property For Industry’s full-year net profit down 36 per cent, from $176 million to $113.5m. Property valuations did not rise as fast last year as they had in 2019, which affected the bottom line and revenue also fell. But robust results, a strong balance sheet and forecast rental growth saw a lift in 2021 dividend guidance to 7.85 to 7.90 cents per share. Last year’s dividend was 7.7cps, compared to 7.6c in 2019.
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Auckland International Airport’s $2.4 billion property portfolio kept the company in the black over the first half. The airport’s substantial property investment meant it was able to report statutory net profit of $28.1 million in the first half, providing the company with a partial buffer against the financial impact of Covid-19 border closures. The underlying loss came to $10.5m for the period and it now expects the loss to swell to $35m to $50m in the year to June.
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SkyCity Entertainment Group’s half-year net profit dropped 76 per cent from last year’s $249.6 million to $78.4m. The fire at the NZ International Convention Centre, the pandemic and a settlement agreement reached with Fletcher Construction last November were all cited by the business for the profit drop. Revenue for the half-year to December 31, 2020 fell 37 per cent to $449.9m.
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Manufacturer Skellerup has turned in a record $19.5 million half-year after-tax profit, and increased its full-year guidance amid strong growth across all business divisions. Skellerup’s revenue rose 11 per cent to $136.6m for the six months to December 31, and earnings before interest and tax came to $27.6m – up 23 per cent on the previous corresponding period. The unaudited net profit was up 61 per cent. The company declared an interim dividend of 6.5c a share, up 1c on last year.
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Fletcher Building exceeded its own forecast by earning 47 per cent more operating profit in the latest half-year, rising from $219 million to $323m. New Zealand’s biggest building construction and materials manufacturing business had forecast making $305m to $320m but came in $3m above the top end of its own range. Revenue was up from $3.96b to $3.98b, net profit after tax up 48 per cent from $82m to $121m and shareholders will get an interim dividend of 12 cents per share, paid on March 24. The board declared an interim dividend of 12 cents per share.
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Australasian healthcare products distributor Ebos Group said strong performances in its healthcare and animal care segments helped drive its first half profit up by 13.7 per cent to A$92.9 million ($100m), leading to a 13.3 per cent gain in its interim dividend. The company said is animal care division reported underlying Ebit lift of 25.6 per cent, in part driven by people spending more time with their pets during Covid-19 lockdowns. Total revenue rose by 6.3 per cent A$4.65 billion. The company declared an interim dividend of NZ42.5 cents per share, up from NZ37.5c a year earlier.
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Contact Energy reported a statutory first half profit of $78m, up 32 per cent on the same period last year, and raised $400m of equity to fund a new geothermal power station at Tauhura.
EBITDAF increased by $25m to $246m, up 11 per cent on the prior year and in line with market expectations. The interim dividend was set at 14 cents, down from 16c, and under the new policy, Contact’s total dividend for the year was forecast to be 35c from 39c in the last financial year.
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