Transport and logistics company Mainfreight has marked its 40th year in business with record full-year sales revenue of $2.62 billion - $2b of which was from overseas operations.

"That starts to make us a little more global than people have been thinking of us and gives us an excellent base on which to continue to grow the business," said managing director Don Braid.

Sales revenue in the year to March 31 lifted 12.2 per cent on the previous year (10.6 per cent with foreign exchange effects) and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) improved 9 per cent to $215.4 million (7.9 per cent with foreign exchange effects).

Net profit for the year was $107.8m, compared to $101.5m the previous year.


Ebitda was slightly ahead of market expectations and all up it was a good result for a company which has a long history of very consistent earnings, dividend and shareholder returns growth, said Craigs Investment Partners' head of private wealth research Mark Lister.

"You'd be hard pressed to find an unhappy Mainfreight shareholder," Lister said.

Sales revenues increased in all five global regions in which Mainfreight operates - New Zealand, Australia, Asia, the Americas and Europe - with Australia showing its best ever financial result and only Asian ebitda not meeting the company's expectations.

A final dividend of 26c per share was declared, taking the full year dividend to 45c per share, up nearly 10 per cent on last year.

Group operating cashflows were $140.2m, up from $131.2m the previous year, reflecting increased profitability.

Net debt was $196.8m, down $16m on the previous year, and the gearing ratio improved to 21.7 per cent from 24.8 per cent.

Net debt was a little higher than expected "but nothing to cause any issues", Lister said.

Net capital expenditure for the year was $64.6m. The company said capital expenditure for the 2019 financial year for property development was likely to be about $105m, the non-property component of which would be about $45m.

Braid said the spend was part of 38 land and building projects under way across all five regions, with the biggest in New Zealand and Australia to cope with growth.

"We are investing in the future of the business. We think of this business as being around for 100 years, therefore we've got to invest not just in infrastructure but also in the people."

Braid said the result had allowed Mainfreight to recognise the performance of its people by paying its largest ever discretionary bonus, up 7.4 per cent to $20.7m.

In the New Zealand and Australia operations people at the lower end of Mainfreight's pay range received an additional boost over the usual annual salary increase.

Lister said a capex increase was fine "if you're going to get a return on investment".

"We're all very happy to give the management team the benefit of the doubt in that sense," he said.

"Spending money on your staff is always a good thing to do. In the long term that is what promotes your culture and keeps your good people," Lister said.

"Even if it's a short-term cost, the long-term benefits far outweigh that."

Braid said Mainfreight continued to be positive about good growth prospects in its markets.

"The salary increases for those in Australia and New Zealand and those additional 38 facilities will all come with bigger overheads and costs, but we've just got to work hard to cover those.

"We've got to keep our feet on the ground and not get too lofty in our views of ourselves and continue to work hard to deliver good results."

However, Lister said the company could afford to hold its head high.

"It's up there with the real classy performers in the local market. Its share price return over the last 10 years is about 17 per cent per annum. The NZX top 50 index's is 8 or 9. It has good offshore growth, it's well managed, they look after their staff and have a good culture," he said.

"It ticks all the boxes for a good investment."