Infratil favourably positioned, analyst says

Infratil sold its 20% stake in Metlifecare for $238million, pocketing a tidy profit of about $90million and collecting dividends along the way, Morningstar analyst Adrian Aitkins said.

Infratil is a New Zealand investment company with a good track record of creating value.

Mr Atkins said all up, Infratil made ''excellent'' returns of 15% a year since buying the stake in October 2013.

''While positive on the outlook on the retirement system, we're happy to see the firm free up more capital to invest in its core businesses.''

Infratil's largest asset was in listed power company Trustpower, New Zealand's fifth-largest power company, which was involved in both the retailing and generation of electricity.

It also owned stakes in Wellington Airport, Canberra Data Centres and NZ Bus, as well as investments in aged care and student accommodation.

Mr Aitkins said Infratil's near-term focus was on building on the existing renewable energy assets and its data centre and retirement investments.

Infratil had a small economic advantage rating thanks to the quality of its core investments, and was favourably positioned to increase earnings in the medium to long term.

During the past decade, Trustpower (Infratil owns 51%) had achieved phenomenal growth, driven by good service levels, project execution, risk management and innovation.

Post-demerger between Trustpower and Tilt Renewables, Trustpower owned hydro electricity generation assets and was a successful retailer of electricity, gas, internet and telecommunication services.

Tilt, which had the wind farms and renewable development projects, was a higher-growth Australia-focused business that would require substantial equity injections to help fund its renewable development projects.

Infratil's New Zealand electricity business was dependent on wholesale prices, renewable output and retail margins, Mr Aitkins said.

Wholesale prices were influenced by hydrology conditions and could fluctuate dramatically.

Apart from price volatility, lower lake levels would affect production from the company's hydro-based power plants.

In Australia, the company's principal risk revolved around changes in government energy policy, he said.

Federal and state governments had significant influence over the Australian energy market which, in turn, influenced company strategy, he said.

The airport business was vulnerable to a slowing in international passenger traffic emanating from global economic conditions and other factors possibly destabilising tourist travel.

In addition, a strong New Zealand dollar could drive tourists away from New Zealand to cheaper destinations.

''The potential for greater regulatory oversight of the airport is also a risk. Infratil carries high financial leverage and could be vulnerable in a credit crisis.''

Infratil had relatively high financial risk, Mr Aitkins said. However, the firm also had an aggressive policy of increasing dividends by up to 15% annually in the medium term.

Infratil generated strong operating cash flow that was steady and predictable. Consequently, it should be able to tolerate a high level of gearing in most circumstances.

Add a Comment