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6 months ago
UPDATE 2-Australia's Transurban H1 jumps, raises dividend guidance
February 6, 2017 / 10:18 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 2-Australia's Transurban H1 jumps, raises dividend guidance

* 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 (Reuters) - 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 its roads.

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 million.

$1 = 1.3063 Australian dollars Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Bernard Orr and Richard Pullin

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