NZX's interim earnings fall sharply

JASON KRUPP
Last updated 13:06 20/08/2012

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Securities market operator NZX says first half earnings fell by 18 per cent due to litigation and head hunting costs as well as slower capital market activity.

The result was in line with a recently revised earnings forecast.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and other financial adjustments (Ebitdaf) for the six months to June 30 fell to $9.57m, compared with $11.7m earned in the same period last year.

That was in the middle of the $9m to $10m range the firm flagged in late July. At the time, brokerage Forsyth Barr had been expecting Ebitdaf of $12.6m.

Net profits for the period came in at $3.2m, down from $4.5m or 28 per cent on a year ago. The shares showed no reaction to the news and opened unchanged from Friday's close of $1.14.

Revenues rose 1 per cent to $26.5m, largely reflecting improved performances from NZX's information, markets and infrastructure earnings streams, but these were sapped by a $2.5m spike in costs to $16.9m - which related to the replacement of outgoing chief executive Mark Weldon and the Ralec litigation.

Earning were also hampered by lower clearing revenues, with trading values down 7 per cent compared with last year even as volumes rose. However, the company said the decline was lower than those experienced by other Asia Pacific bourse operators.

Revenues from its markets operations businesses, which include energy trading operations and Fonterra's yet-to-be-launched Trading Among Farmers programme, fell 2 per cent.

"NZX has delivered a solid performance in challenging global conditions that have seen contraction in revenues amongst other exchanges," NZX chief executive Tim Bennett said.

The tougher operating conditions are expected to continue into the second half of the year, a period when the NZX typically generates the bulk of its earnings, he said.

"Whilst the slower than expected growth on the listings side is primarily a reflection of external factors, we are investing in expertise that will help us lay the path for New Zealand companies to raise the capital they need to invest in growth and, ultimately, in creation of jobs for New Zealanders," Bennett said.

NZX declared a dividend of 1.25 cents per share, fully imputed, for the second quarter of 2012, which is consistent with the firm's policy of annual 1 cent per share increase.

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