Auckland International Airport boosted annual profit 25 per cent, beating estimates, as it reported increased passenger and plane numbers and a pick-up in the value of its property portfolio, and lifted its return to shareholders.

Net profit rose to $178 million, or 13.5 cents per share, in the 12 months ended June 30 from $142.3 million, or 10.8 cents, a year earlier, the country's main gateway said in a statement. That beat First NZ Capital's forecast profit of $155.6 million. Income rose 5.1 per cent to $448.5 million, while the value of the airport's investment property gained $23.1 million, and derivative values increased $1.5 million.

"Whilst we have seen some reductions in certain routes, our investment and work with our airline partners has resulted in a number of international and domestic airlines announcing new capacity and additional flights," departing chair Joan Withers said. "Our strategic plan is to grow faster, aim higher and become stronger over the next 12 months."

Read the company's latest investor presentation here.


Underlying profit, which strips out one-off items and fair value movements climbed 11 per cent to $153.8 million, or 11.6 cents per share, in line with First NZ estimates. Auckland Airport sees underlying earnings rising to between $160 million and $170 million in the 2014 financial year.

The board declared a final dividend of 6.25 cents per share with an October 3 record date, payable on October 17. That takes the annual payment to 12 cents per share, or $158.7 million, up from 14.3 cents, or $158.9 million, a year earlier.

Last month the Commerce Commission signed off on Auckland Airport's targeted returns of 8 per cent per annum between 2013 and 2017, saying it was within the antitrust regulator's acceptable range.

The airport's aeronautical unit lifted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation 4.8 per cent to $156.3 million. The retail segment increased earnings 4.1 per cent to $159.6 million, and its property segment boosted EBITDA 13 per cent to $34.6 million.

Domestic passenger movements climbed 8.4 per cent to 6.76 million in the year, offsetting a 0.2 per cent decline in international passenger movements to 7.76 million and a fall by the same amount in aircraft movements to 155,146.

International passenger movements at its Cairns Airport fell 0.8 per cent to 666,607, while domestic passenger numbers gained 6.3 per cent to 3.6 million. Domestic passenger numbers at the Mackay Airport fell 1 per cent to 1.11 million.

Queenstown international passenger numbers jumped 24 per cent to 241,714 and domestic passengers climbed 12 per cent to 957,204.

Auckland Airport reaped $9.9 million from its investments in North Queensland Airports, Queenstown Airport and Novotel Hotel.

The shares gained 1.2 per cent to $3.25 yesterday, and have gained 22 per cent this year, outpacing an 11 per cent increase on the benchmark NZX 50 index. The stock is rated an average 'hold' based on nine analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $3.05.