Abano Healthcare's annual net profit dropped 26 per cent, reflecting falling margins in both New Zealand and Australia and as it wrote off goodwill on four Australian dental practices.
The company also slashed its final dividend to 8 cents per share from 20 cents last year, taking the annual payout to 24 cents, down from 36 cents. Abano had held its first-half dividend steady at 16 cents.
The corporate dental group's net profit fell to $7.6 million in the year ended May from $10.3m the previous year. The underlying net result was down 18 per cent.
The latest bottom line result included a $2.6m write-off of goodwill, partly offset by a write-back of $1.1m of performance-based deferred payment for recent practice acquisitions which won't now be paid.
The company bought 16 more practices in the year, mostly in Australia, which took total practices to 239.
In line with its March announcement, Abano has reduced the number of practices it will buy and is trying to achieve organic growth.
It did achieve growth in New Zealand where its Lumino-branded practices delivered 1.2 per cent gross revenue growth from practices owned at least a year, down from the 3.3 per cent growth in the previous year.
However, that growth came at a cost with Lumino's underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation falling 12 per cent to $16.9m from $19.2m the previous year and its ebitda margin dropping to 11.5 per cent from 13.9 per cent.
Abano says it invested significantly in Lumino's IT, people and systems during the year to support the group's scale and growth initiatives and that margins should return to prior levels in future.
While the Australian Maven brand saw revenue drop 2.9 per cent after a flat performance the previous year, its ebitda rose 15.4 per cent to A$19.5m from A$16.9m, despite its ebitda margin falling to 10.9 per cent from 11.1 per cent.
"The challenging economic conditions noted in Australia since 2014 have continued and, along with workforce and other business factors, have impacted on Maven Dental Group," the company says.
"Abano is adapting its growth strategy to suit market conditions and implementing initiatives to lift business performance," it says.
The company says it will save about $1.8m in direct and indirect acquisition costs by reducing the number of dental practices it buys and that it has "resized" the support offices in both countries.
It says it expects an earnings recovery in the current year, "driven by continued same-store sales growth in New Zealand, the full-year benefits of full-year 2019 acquisitions and contributions from further New Zealand acquisitions expected in the second half of the 2020 financial year."
Abano shares decreased 0.5 per cent to $4.40 at today's opening and have fallen more than 50 per cent in the last 12 months. The company has fought off numerous takeover attempts but the share price is now well below the $9.84 per share offered for a partial takeover bid that lapsed in March 2017.