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Stockland warns on earnings

5 Dec 2012 THE AGE - CAROLYN CUMMINS



STOCKLAND has issued another warning on the housing market's prospects, saying next year could produce earnings at the lower end of forecasts.

Stockland's chief financial officer, Tim Foster, who is awaiting the arrival early next year of the new chief executive Mark Steinert, said on Tuesday that conditions, particularly in Victoria, had shown no improvement since October. But analysts said the drop in the cash rate to 3 per cent would give home buyers a boost.

The chief executive of Raine & Horne, Angus Raine, said Christmas had arrived early for many Australian homeowners with mortgages, in the guise of Glenn Stevens and his able helpers, the Reserve Bank board.

"The savings generated by the rate cut will help ease the pressure on many families as they face up to the usual costs associated with the festive season," Mr Raine said.

But Mr Foster said for Stockland, unless the Victorian market improved soon, "which seems unlikely, underlying earnings per security for the 2013 financial year will be at the lower end of our previously guided range of 10-15 per cent below 2012".

"EPS decline will be even greater in the first half, primarily due to a large skew to the second half in the residential business," he said at the group's quarterly update in Townsville. Our confidence that 2013 will be the low point in our earnings, with improvement from 2014, is demonstrated by the decision to hold our 2013 distribution at 24? per security, even though this will be above our target payout ratio."