Infratil says the growth of its largest business, Canberra Data Centres, remains strong with a lower earnings outlook reflecting the time it takes to build new centres.
On Wednesday the listed Infrastructure fund reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and fair value movements (EBITDAF) of $398.8 million for the year to March 31 on Wednesday, up from $370.2m a year earlier.
A surge in performance fees at its international business for manager Morrison & Co, and unrealised losses on energy derivatives at Trustpower, meant it reported a net loss of $49.2m.
Jason Boyes, who became the fund's third chief executive in 26 years in April, provided market guidance that Infratil expected EDITDAF to rise to $470m-$520m in the current financial year, even though CDC's growth was expected to grow by only 10 per cent to about A$165m (NZ$177.7m), below the recent trend of 25 per cent growth.
"That's not a sign that the growth in CDC is tailing off, at all," Boyes said, with the company going through phases where earnings slowed as the company built new centres. Currently the business is building four centres in Canberra, Sydney and Auckland to cater to contracts already signed.
"We're highly confident to continue to say that over the two year period they will continue the trend of 25 per cent growth in EBITDA," Boyes said as Infratil presented its results.
Covid-19 had accelerated the move to cloud-based services, as well as increasing awareness of who owned data centres, something that was helping CDC, Boyes said.
"They are really still charging."
In the coming months Infratil is expected to see gross proceeds of around $2 billion from the sale of its stake in Tilt Renewables, the Australasian windfarm developer which was spun out of Trustpower.
Infratil announced a strategic review of Tilt in December after receiving interest in the business, but Boyes has said the sale price was more than it ever imagined it would raise.
On Wednesday he hinted that the market could be undervaluing its US renewables business, Longroad Energy, in the same way.
Legislation from the Biden administration currently before the House "basically has everything they possibly could ask for," Boyes said, and while it was not clear what would ultimately pass, the outlook was strong.
"They can confidently see the pipeline and how they will deploy over multiple years out into the future," Boyes said.
Other parts of the business were hit by the impact of Covid-19, with Vodafone reporting a loss in revenue and a sharp reduction in earnings at Wellington Airport. Chief financial officer Phillipa Harford said the performance of Wellington Airport was still remarkable, predicting it was the only cashflow positive airport in the world. "But I haven't fact checked that."
Infratil declared a partially imputed dividend of 11.5 cents, a 4.5 per cent increase in 2020.
Fees paid to Morrison & Co, the investment bank which manages the fund, jumped by more than $105 million to $269.8m.
Almost all of the increase came from its international fees on offshore investments, with revisions in the values of asset meaning Canberra Data Centres generated a fee of $140m and Tilt Renewables $86m. The fee on Tilt may flow into this year, with the calculation based on an undisturbed share price of $5.44, well below the $8.10 offer price.
The company described the year covered by the results as "remarkable", with a global pandemic heavily affecting some of its businesses, the largest ever sale from its portfolio and the first takeover offer in its 26 years.
Days after the Tilt review was announced, Australian Super announced it had made an indicative offer for Infratil and wanted dialog with the board of the company.
Infratil said it had rejected the offer as it materially undervalued the company, and Australian Super has made no public statement about the approach since.
The approach caused Infratil's share price to surge, with Infratil claiming investors had received a return of more than 90 per cent in the financial year, partly reflecting the low share price in March 2020.
Proceeds from the sale of Tilt are expected to be received in August. Infratil said in "anticipation of receiving the funds from the sale from Tilt Renewables, management has been particularly active developing reinvestment options, which will prioritise growth from existing businesses where possible".