Mac Atlas eyes dividend in 2013

TOLL ROAD owner Macquarie Atlas Roads says it may be able to shrug off a first half loss to declare a distribution early next year.

TOLL ROAD owner Macquarie Atlas Roads says it may be able to shrug off a first half loss to declare a distribution early next year.

The group yesterday posted a loss for the first half of the 2012 calendar year, due partly to its share of losses from its co-owned toll roads overseas.

The net loss of $75.2 million for the six months to June 30 was an improvement from its $106.4 million loss in the previous corresponding period.

Toll road companies often book accounting losses in the early stages of the life of their assets.

Macquarie Atlas's preferred measure of performance, proportionate EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) rose by 3.5 per cent to $244.8 million.

Proportionate EBITDA reflects the results of the roads portfolio in proportion to the group's beneficial ownership interest.

"As previously foreshadowed, [the company] did not declare a dividend," the tollroad operator said.

"[But] based on the current outlook, Macquarie Atlas Roads anticipates being able to declare a dividend in the first quarter of 2013."

Macquarie Atlas Roads has interests in six toll roads in the US, Britain, Germany and France. The company was formed from the 2010 restructure of Macquarie Infrastructure Group into two separately listed toll road companies.

The company's share of net losses from its portfolio of roads increased to $33.4 million in the first half from a $17.3 million loss in the previous corresponding period.

Macquarie Atlas Roads said the losses partly reflected losses on interest rate swaps and higher debt-related amortisation.

Revenue from its roads rose by 1.4 per cent to $330.8 million in the first half of 2012 despite a 1.9 per cent fall in traffic volumes. Revenue was boosted by toll increases.

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