Ryman Healthcare is forecasting full-year underlying profit to rise by 10-17 percent after a 6.2 percent increase in the first-half.

The actual bottom line first-half profit jumped 11.1 percent as its property values rose and with record resales.

The retirement village operator says the stronger second-half results will reflect its accelerating building rate, with full-year underlying profit expected to be $250-265 million, up from $227 million last year.

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Net profit for the six months ended September rose to $188.3 million from $169.5 million. That includes a $92.7 million unrealised gain in property values, up from the previous first-half's $72.8 million gain.

"We have significantly lifted our landbank over the past three years to match our growth aspirations in New Zealand and Victoria," says chief executive Gordon MacLeod in the results announcement.

"We are now moving into our biggest ever build programme on stunning sites, which is exciting for the team and our next generation of residents."

The company wants to have five villages open in Victoria by the end of 2020 and, of the 22 sites in Ryman's landbank, development has begun at 10, six in New Zealand and another four in Victoria.

The company is targeting a build rate of 900 units and beds this year, up from 757 in the year ended March.

"The build rate is lifting to meet Ryman's financial aspirations of doubling underlying profit every five years and to create a tail of growing earnings," MacLeod says.

Ryman also announced the purchase of two new village sites. Highett in Melbourne will be its 11th site in that city, where it plans to build a $180 million village, and the other is at Northwood in Christchurch where it plans a $149 million village.

Chair David Kerr says Ryman's villages continue to be in strong demand with care occupancy in established villages running at 97 per cent. Only 1.6 per cent of the portfolio was available for resale at Sept. 30.


Ryman's resales volumes grew 11.3 per cent while volumes in the wider real estate market declined 15 per cent.

"The first-half result has been achieved against a background of tough market conditions in Melbourne and Auckland, so we are satisfied with what has been achieved," Kerr said.

But the company's progress isn't growth for its own sake: "Our growth reflects the fact that we want to build as many communities as we can so that more people can benefit from the Ryman experience."

Ryman's operating cash flow rose 17.6 per cent to $256.1 million in the latest six months while total assets rose 17.4 per cent to $7.26 billion.

MacLeod says a highlight of the latest six months was the progress in Victoria.

"The team exchanged a record 260 new sales, resales and care contracts in the first half in Victoria. We are interacting with more people than ever and there is no doubt our brand awareness is growing," he says.

The company recently submitted its 10th development application in Victoria.

"As well as a record amount of construction activity, we have a whole lot of innovations feeding through that will make life in a Ryman village better than ever for our residents," MacLeod says.

That includes a revamp of dementia care and the trial of its new 'Ryman Delight' entertainment and well-being programme for residents.

Ryman will pay a first-half dividend of 11.5 cents per share, up from 10.8 cents last year. It will be paid on Dec. 13 to those on the register on Dec. 6.

Ryman shares closed yesterday at $14.34, up 23.6 per cent from a year ago.

- BusinessDesk