* Net profit jumps 42 pct to A$88 mln
* Raises FY17 distribution guidance
* Flags the need for additional equity capital
* Will seek opportunities in the U.S. - CEO
(Recasts with statutory net profit, adds CEO comment, shares)
By Swati Pandey
SYDNEY, Feb 7 Australian toll road developer
Transurban Group posted a 42 percent jump in first-half
profit on Tuesday and raised its full-year dividend guidance,
pushing its shares to a near four-month high.
Statutory net profit rose to A$88 million ($67 million) for
the six months to December 2016 from A$62 million a year ago,
led by higher toll revenue and an uptick in traffic growth on
Transurban, which manages and develops urban toll road
networks in Australia and the United States, upgraded its
full-year distribution guidance to 51.5 cents per share, up 13.2
percent on a year ago.
The news pushed its shares up 4.8 percent in early trading
to A$10.88, giving it a market value of about A$22 billion.
Transurban Chief Executive Officer Scott Charlton said the
company would look for growth opportunities in the United States
under President Donald Trump.
Trump had promised to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges, ports and
other public works projects with a $1 trillion infrastructure
plan. More than two-thirds of U.S. roads are in less than good
condition and nearly 143,000 bridges need repair.
"We will be watching for new opportunities in the United
States, but we continue to remain patient," Charlton told a
post-earnings conference call.
Transurban currently has a A$9 billion project pipeline
across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane in Australia and the Greater
Washington area in the United States.
Charlton said the company's balance sheet was strong enough
to fund the projects, although there was potential for an
additional equity raising for its A$5.5 billion Western
Distributor project in Melbourne after financial closure.
However, he urged caution on estimating the amount and
timeframe for any capital raising.
Revenues for the half year jumped 26 percent to A$1.3
billion, while proportional earnings before interest, tax,
depreciation and amortisation rose 12.1 percent to A$817
($1 = 1.3063 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard