No drumrolls as AIA reports pleasing full-year results

Improved retail outlets have helped to lift Auckland International Airport’s earnings. Photo: NZ...
Improved retail outlets have helped to lift Auckland International Airport’s earnings. Photo: NZ Herald
Auckland International Airport chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden made a very low-key announcement about the company’s profit for the year ended June, despite some good news  on the balance sheet.

Financial results were not mentioned until page 3 of his release to the NZX yesterday and even then they were bullet points.

The actual financial statements showed Auckland Airport’s operating profit grew 7% in the period to $506.4 million from $473.1 million in the previous corresponding period.

The final dividend increased 4.8% to 11c per share.

Thanks to the gain on the sale of its stake in North Queensland Airport, the reported profit rose 96% to $650.1 million from $332.9 million. The company had previously announced the sale of NQA to the market.

Earnings per share rose to 54.31c from 27.96c in the pcp. Revenue was up 9% to $693.9 million.

The company’s total equity rose to $8.2 billion by balance date from $6.5 billion in the pcp and the operating cash flow rose to $321.2 million from $307 million.

In his statement, Sir Henry said the company had continued delivering on its infrastructure plans and in reshaping its business to match the needs of the new development era and changing travel and trade markets.

The sale of the stake in NQA, the investment in new transport projects and the roll-out of new operations and service initiatives had reinforced the focus on business in New Zealand and on taking care of customers during the airport’s $2 billion aeronautical infrastructure development programme — one of the most significant in the country, he said.

During the year, the airport reached some important milestones. It completed the first stage of the new international Pier B extension before the 2017 summer peak travel period and fully completed the project in March.

The international terminal departure zone would be completed by the end of the calendar year, and the completion of a wide range of new transport projects would improve the flow of traffic around the airport precinct.

"We are already starting to see the benefit of these projects on operational and service performance and customers are also benefiting from the changes through upgraded facilities, improved processes and a wider range of retail choices while at the airport," Sir Henry said.

The accounts showed retail income in the period grew to $190.6 million from $162.8 million in the pcp.

Sir Henry would be replaced as chairman by Patrick Strange.Forsyth Barr broker Damian Foster said Auckland Airport had provided first-time full-year 2019 reported profit guidance of $265 million to $275 million, implying growth of 1% to 5%.

"We note management historically have taken a conservative stance to earnings guidance."

Capital expenditure guidance of $450 million to $550 million,  including $130 million of investment property, was lower than implied in the aeronautical price-setting assumptions last year.

The benefits of the retail upgrade and expansion would continue through the new financial year, although rising interest and depreciation costs would offset much of this uplift, Mr Foster said.

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