Auckland Airport profit up 11% on domestic passenger traffic growth

Auckland International Airport, the nation's busiest gateway, posted an 11 percent increase in first-half profit and lifted its full-year guidance as growth in domestic passenger traffic made up for a decline in those from overseas.

Profit rose to $76.9 million in the six months ended December 31, from $69 million a year earlier, the company says in a statement today. Sales rose 3.6 percent to $223.6 million. Profit and sales beat First NZ Capital's forecasts for $75.2 million and $221.4 million respectively.

The airport company lifted its first-half dividend to 5.75 cents a share from 4.4 cent while lifting its full-year guidance for profit before one-time items of $145 million to $153 million, from a previous range of $143 million to $150 million.

"Performance for the first six months has been slightly ahead of expectations, particularly domestic passenger volume growth," the company says. "While challenges to aviation demand remain, we now have a modestly higher expectation for the FY2013 period."

Shares of the airport company last traded at $2.705 and have gained 7.7 percent in the past six months. The stock is rated a 'hold' based on a Reuters poll of 10 analysts, with a median price target of $2.81.

Total international passengers fell 1.8 percent to 3.89 million, partly reflecting an influx in the year-earlier period related to the Rugby World Cup.

The decline reflected a 25 percent drop in transit passengers, which the company says reflects the exit of Qantas Airways on the Los Angeles route from Sydney and Aerolineas Argentinas on the Buenos Aires route. Excluding transits, international traffic was up 0.2 percent.

Domestic passengers rose 7.2 percent to 3.36 million, reflecting increased capacity and number of flights by Air New Zealand and Jetstar, it says.

Direct comparison of Auckland Airport's aeronautical service charges is complicated by a restructuring of pricing in the latest period, which saw an increase in the passenger service charge and the removal of the terminal services charge.

The PSC rose to $59.95 million from $42 million, while the year-earlier period's $14.4 million TSC disappeared. Aeronautical rental income fell to $6.85 million from $9.1 million, but this reflected the lease revenue in domestic processing areas being included in the domestic PSC, it says.

Retail income rose 0.9 percent to $62.4 million and income from car parking rose 9.7 percent to $20.5 million.

Operating expenses rose 4.9 percent to $57.2 million on increased marketing and promotions spending and staff costs.

The company's reported share of profits from associates, North Queensland Airports, Queenstown Airport and Auckland Airport Hotel Holdings rose 61 percent to $4.4 million.

(BusinessDesk)

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