Logistics, Ports & Terminals, Mining and Heavy Industries

Harding ‘focused’ after ‘solid’ first half for Aurizon

Coal wagons Aurizon. Photo: Aurizon

Aurizon chief executive Andrew Harding says a $162 million turnaround in the rail operator’s net profit after tax in the first half of FY17 demonstrated its “solid performance” in a strengthening resources market.

The Brisbane-based rail operator on Monday announced a $54 million net profit after tax in the first half, a significant improvement from a $108 million loss in the first half of FY16.

The improved net profit figure came off the back off a 21% rise in underlying earnings before interest and tax, to $488 million in the first half.

An interim dividend of 13.6 cents per share was announced, up from 11.3 cents per share a year ago.

“Today’s result demonstrates a solid performance in a strengthening commodities market,” Harding said.

“Our Network and Coal businesses are the strong performers and we remain on track to deliver the full year earnings and tonnage guidance previously provided to the market.”

Aurizon is maintaining its guidance for underlying earnings before interest and tax of $900-950 million in FY17.

It is projecting above rail volumes of 255 to 275 million tonnes in the financial year, 200 to 212 million tonnes of which should be coal.

Harding, who replaced long-time Aurizon boss Lance Hockridge last year, reflected on his first few months as chief executive.

“As the incoming CEO, I have been travelling around our operations,” he said.

“I have seen great capability in our frontline teams. This capability provides Aurizon with a good platform to take the company to the next level of performance, which we will drive forward in the months ahead.”

Harding said he expects the company to maintain its recent success, with the outlook positive for its key customers.

“From an international perspective, we are seeing strong demand for quality Australian resources, including metallurgical and thermal coal, in a strengthened price environment,” he explained.

“This is good news for our customers, for the industry and for Aurizon, and could present future volume and growth opportunities.”

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