Higher values push NPT into black

Listed property company NPT has booked a $8.7 million after tax profit for the half year, a big turnaround from a $9.8m loss in the previous half.

Formerly called National Property Trust the company said the profit was partly attributable to a $7.2m rise in the value of its investment properties compared with the previous half when the company shouldered $22.1m of writedowns after the Christchurch earthquake on February 22.

Much of the property value rise came from its Christchurch Eastgate Mall which was valued at $40.8m on September 30, up from $35.5m six months before.

The company declared a dividend of 0.575 cents a share for the quarter ended September 30, with tax credits of 0.224 cents a share.

The company's gross or trading profit for the half year was lower, $3m before abnormal expenses and property revaluations, compared with $5.4m for the same period in 2011.

Chief executive Kerry Hitchcock said last year's higher half year trading included insurance payouts of $4.8m for damage to 26 shops at Eastgate.

"This year's first half year result brings the company's operating profit figure back into line with current trading conditions; rental income has softened, but on the upside there have also been a reduction in operating costs and interest payments."

"A highlight for the company over the period has been the rejuvenation of Christchurch's Eastgate Shopping Centre after it suffered damage in the 2011 earthquakes. The centre has risen $5.3m in value, new leases have been signed and more are in the pipeline. Foot traffic has increased and brisk Christmas trade is expected."

It property portfolio was valued at $126.30m at September 30, up $8.15 million from $118.15m on March 31.

Strong demand for well-placed industrial property also increased the value of its Print Place property in Middleton, Christchurch from $12.5m to $12.7m.

Last week NPT signed an eight year lease with the Canterbury District Health Board for 2,700 square metres of space and 65 car parks at Print Place

The company was still negotiating ain insurance claim for Christchurch's Natcoll House in Hereford Street.

In September, the company sold its Wellington property at 342 Lambton Quay for $24.5m to Robt. Jones Holdings. In early November NPT announced the unconditional sale of its Napier retail property, Ocean Boulevard, for $4.52m, with settlement to take place this week.

In the half year NPT's weighted average lease term lifted from 3.4 years at March 31 to 6.2 years at September 30.