31 May 2012

Record profit for Mainfreight

6:01 am on 31 May 2012

Mainfreight has made a record full year profit on the back of strong domestic sales in Australasia.

The transport and logistics firm made $80.5 million in the year to the end of March, more than triple the previous year.

Excluding more than $14 million in one-off charges, Mainfreight's underlying profit rose 39% to $65.7 million.

Revenue rose 35% to $1.8 billion, boosted by sales of food and beverage and home improvements in Australia and New Zealand, while the newly-acquired Wim Bosman operation in the Netherlands contributed nearly a quarter of the increase.

But weak trading conditions and the loss of customers affected Bosman's operation, which failed to meet earnings targets that would have resulted in a €10 million payout.

And Caro Trans operations in the United States suffered due to lower export volumes and falling ocean fright rates.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid says the company benefited from freighting more food, beverage and home improvement goods throughout Australia and New Zealand, offsetting a weaker showing from its Wim Bosman and Caro Trans operations.

"It is a nice result driven by good performance in New Zealand and Australia, and of course the contributions from the others, but we would have liked to have seen some of those others contribute a bit better than what they have".

Mr Braid said the international freight shifting business has been tough for all players, due to low ocean freight rates, and its growth in Asia has been far too low given Mainfreight's a small player with plenty of room to expand.

"Even though we grew the business by 9% ... in one of the biggest freight markets in the world, we should have perhaps been achieving 30 or 40% growth", he says.

Looking ahead, analysts are factoring in low teens profit growth, and Mr Braid is optimistic that earnings will rise, helped by robust Australasian sales.

Mainfreight on Wednesday declared a dividend of 14 cents per share, taking the total to 26 cents per share for the year.

The company made a net profit after tax of $80.5 million in the year to the end of March, more than triple the previous year.