Asciano H1 profit falls slightly

Group boosts underlying profit, revenue; lifts FY profit guidance.

Asciano (AIO) has lifted its profit guidance for the 2014 financial year, after posting a slight fall in half-year profit.

The port and rail operator now expects low single digit growth in underlying net profit after tax, up from September guidance of a flat result.

“Asciano continues to forecast growth in underlying earnings before interest and tax in fiscal 2014 albeit at a slower growth rate than reported in fiscal 2013,” the group said.

For the six months to December 31, Asciano’s statutory net profit after minority interests was $187.5 million, 4.6% lower than the previous corresponding period.

Underlying net profit, before material costs of $2.7 million linked to redevelopment of Port Botany, lifted six per cent in the half to $190.2 million.

Meanwhile, revenue for the group tracked up 7.3% to $2.007 billion, from $1.87 billion in the first half of 2013, largely on the back of its PN Coal and Bulk and Automotive Port Services.

“Good growth continued to be reported by our Bulk and Automotive Port Services and Pacific National Coal divisions, offset to an extent by the performance of Pacific National Rail and Terminals and Logistics that have both been impacted by the persistent weakness in the domestic economy and the volatility of agriculture based rail volumes,” chief executive John Mullen said.

Asciano will pay a fully-franked intermim dividend of 5.75 cents will on March 20, to shareholders on the record at March 6. The group’s dividend reinvestment plan will not apply.