Monday, February 15, 2010

Freightways Ltd: 2010 Half Year profit commentary

The half year profit to December 31 2010 that came out this morning from Freightways Ltd [FRE.NZ] is a clear indication that life is not only tough for the company but it also shows that the economy as a whole is still in the doldrums and shows little sign of positivity.

Revenue was down by 7% to NZ $164.9 million and net profit after tax down by 15% to just over $14.45 million.

A healthy dividend of 7c is to be paid compared with last years half of 8c, so little attention has been made to keeping cash within the business. Very important at this time in my not so humble opinion.

Financing costs for a sizable company debt have also been considerable but a capital raising from earlier last year has been used to pay down some bank debt so this cost was lessened for this period.

In comments about capital management, nothing was said about the sizable dividend being paid when profit was down. The company is borrowing heavily to fund this dividend and it should have been cut by more than it has. Other companies have done this during 2009 and will again in 2010 and for Freightway's management not to address this is poor considering economic constraints surrounding listed company spending.

The courier businesses have been hit the hardest, while the company's purchase of document management businesses over the last several years continues to pay off as these are achieving growth even when other parts of the the company have slowed.

Naturally management are cagey about company prospects for the coming year given economic uncertainty but I would have to say that business operations and therefore revenue will probably remain down over the rest of 2010 and into 2011. Profit levels will depend on cost savings until the New Zealand economy bounces back and real growth for the company can return.

Overall, the half year 2010 result has been a good indicator of a patchy 2009 and an indicator that there is more patchiness to come for Freightways. The same can also be said about the New Zealand economy as a whole.

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Investors have reacted by marking down shares by 11c to $3.10 this morning at time of writing.

7.5 out of ten.


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