Auckland Airport says global financial instability is tempering its outlook for the coming year.

The company, New Zealand's biggest by market capitalisation, says growth prospects were strong "as long as uncertainty overseas doesn't mean everyone catches a cold," said chief executive Adrian Littlewood.

The company beat its own guidance with a 3.8 percent gain in underlying annual earnings.

Read more:
Auckland Airport profits up as passenger growth surges
NZ shares slump on world China fears

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Underlying profit, which excludes some revaluations of property and derivatives, rose to $176.4 million in the 12 months ended June 30, from $169.9 million a year earlier.

Sales rose 6.9 percent to $508.5 million. Underlying earnings per share were up 12.9 per cent to 14.82c per share.

Earnings exceeded the $167 million-to-$174 million guidance the company gave in February, which was itself an upgrade.

Growth in international passenger volumes helped drive a 7.1 percent gain in passenger service charges to $140.9 million, its biggest source of revenue, while retail income, mainly from the stores in its terminals, rose 3.9 percent to $132 million. Airfield income rose 6.5 percent to $93.3 million and the company also recorded increases in rental income.

Underlying annual earnings may rise as much as 8.3 percent in 2016 to $191 million.
Littlewood said the 2014-15 year started slowly.

"We're just taking a prudent view at the start of the financial year. Last year was a lesson for us that things never end up working out as you think - I think we've got some uncertainty about how the summer will turn out exactly."

Airlines were not locking in summer schedules for a month or so.

Global uncertainty including the tumble in the US Dow Jones index could also affect confidence.

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"The world is going through some lumpy periods at the moment. One minute Europe's looking very dicey and then Greece is sorted out, the next month China's looking dicey and then on Friday's the Dow's off strongly."

The airport makes its money from landing charges, rents terminal retailers pay, car parking and other ventures such as stakes in hotels.

He said it had benefitted from very strong tourism growth the country had enjoyed while the Kiwi dollar was high relative to traditional visitor markets such as the United States and Britain.

"We had that growth even when we had a strong dollar - now that we've got a lower dollar what will that do?"

While the lower dollar could deter long haul travel by New Zealanders, intense competition among airlines was keeping a lid on fares.

Mainland Chinese carriers are increasing capacity or beginning new services which would boost capacity through to Europe, he said.

Shares were trading down 7c to $5.14 this morning.