Delegat Group, New Zealand's largest listed winemaker, lifted operating profit 17 per cent in the first half and is predicting annual profit to be in line with last year.

Profit excluding one-time movements in asset valuations rose to $24.7 million in the six months ended December 31, from $21.1m a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Operating earnings before tax rose 22 per cent to $41.4m, on a 6 per cent gain in operating revenue to $135.8m. Global case sales rose 14 per cent, with the gain partly offset by unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

Delegat said that the numbers reported under conventional financial reporting standards "do not provide adequate insight into the group's underlying operational performance, primarily due to a number of fair value adjustments that are required to be reported on." Net profit fell to $19.1m from $21.5m a year earlier as the company's grapes and derivative financial instruments were written down by $7.7m, with total writedowns of $5.66m net of tax.

The company forecast full-year operating profit to be in line with 2016's record $37m, based on current exchange rates, although it said forex volatility makes it difficult to forecast financial performance.


"The results achieved in the six months to December 2016 are testament to the strength of the group's business model," it said. "Delegat Group is well positioned to pursue its strategic goal to build a leading global super premium wine company. The group is on target to achieve global case sales for the full year of 2,632,000, up 9 per cent on last year."

Delegat invested $23m in the first half, with vineyard development in New Zealand and the Barossa Valley, and development of wineries in Hawke's Bay and Marlborough. It borrowed $10.3m in the period, taking net debt to $292.m, up 3 per cent from June 30, 2016.

The bulk of Delegat's sales still came from its distribution in its New Zealand, Canada, Asia and Pacific segment, with a 4.4 per cent lift to $144.2m in revenue though a 25 per cent drop in segment profit to $14.5m. The Australian segment lifted revenue 13.9 per cent to $46.3m and profit rose to $809,000 from $487,000 a year earlier, while revenues dropped 9.9 per cent in Europe to $39.1m and profit fell 33 per cent to $780,000. US revenues rose 3.2 per cent to $41.9m, and profit rose 6.6 per cent to $629,000.

The shares last traded at $6.15 and have gained 4.2 per cent in the past 12 months.