February 13, 2018 / 10:14 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Australia’s Goodman Group posts 9 pct rise in HY operating profit, upgrades outlook

(Adds outlook details, background, quote)

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Australia’s largest listed property owner Goodman Group said on Wednesday its half-year operating profit rose 9 percent, and the company upgraded its full-year earnings forecast as it benefits from online retailers for warehouse space lifting rents for the sector.

Operating profit was A$421.3 million ($331.10 million) for the six months to Dec. 31, the company said, higher than A$388.2 million a year ago and better than analyst forecasts of A$412 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The property developer declared a distribution of 13.75 Australian cents per security, up from 12.7 Australian cents a year ago.

It also raised its earnings outlook for fiscal year 2018 to 46.5 Australian cents per share, an 8 percent increase on fiscal 2017’s performance.

“Increasing urbanisation, rising consumerism and changes in technology, are creating increased competition between residential, higher intensity industrial, e-commerce and data centre uses,” the firm said in a statement.

“This is driving rents and land prices in locations where supply is already constrained.”

Competition in Australia’s retail space has intensified in recent months with U.S. online e-commerce company Amazon.com starting operations in December, pushing many traditional shopkeepers to beef up their online presence.

While the explosion in online shopping has put pressure on retailers, the change has buttressed the performance of Goodman, which specialises in logistics facilities, warehouses and business parks.

The operating profit number is considered to be an objective indicator of the company’s performance because it strips out gains or losses due to changes in the carrying values of properties.

Including those adjustments, net profit fell 14 percent to A$542.7 million.

The firm, which operates in 16 countries, also said that it expects full year distribution of 28 Australian cents per security.

$1 = 1.2724 Australian dollars Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Byron Kaye and Grant McCool

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