The future looks bright for Boral, with a string of major road and infrastructure projects on the horizon as the building products maker benefits from the residential construction boom in NSW.
Chief executive Mike Kane also flagged Boral, which has extensive operations across Australia, the US and Asia, was on the look-out for acquisitions.
The company has the capacity to “pursue sensible acquisitions if the right opportunities come along”, Mr Kane told reporters.
“We would look at any sensible acquisition that would apply to our network any where in the geographies that we compete in,” he said.
Boral should benefit from the strong pipeline of major roads and infrastructure work across the country over the next few years, Mr Kane said.
The ongoing housing market recovery in the US is also expected to start delivering strong returns.
Boral booked a 31 per cent jump in net profit to $136.6 million for the six months ended December 31, from $104.5 million over the same period a year earlier.
The result was also buoyed by cost cutting, some price gains and slightly higher property earnings.
Excluding significant items, net profit rose 22.5 per cent.
“The success of the first half is underpinned by a very strong residential construction market in NSW, a solid performance in south-east Queensland, further recovery in the US and a successful growth strategy in the gypsum business in Australia and Asia,” Mr Kane said.
Boral expects to deliver a marginal improvement in earnings for its building products business over the full year, while underlying earnings for its construction materials and cement division are tipped to be slightly higher than in the previous year.
The results and outlook were well received by investors, with Boral shares adding 18 cents, or 3.5 per cent, to $5.32 in a weaker market.
Citi analyst Simon Thackray said Boral’s interim dividend of 11 cents beat market expectations of 10 cents.
The list of infrastructure projects that Boral is tendering on will no doubt gain considerable market focus, given residential leading indicators have been topping out of late, he said.
Earnings in Boral’s largest division, construction materials and cement were $159 million, up from $150 million a year earlier.
But first half revenue was down four per cent to $2.19 billion, hurt by the fall in resource based and other major project activity, including LNG projects in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
BORAL DELIVERS ON PROFIT AND DIVIDEND
- Net profit up 31pct to $136.6m
- Revenue down four pct to $2.194b
- Interim dividend up 2.5 cents to 11 cents