Business model change helps Augusta more than double first-half profit

Paul McBeth | NZHerald

Augusta Capital more than doubled first-half profit as it reaped more income from funds management and year-earlier costs from its move away from direct property ownership weren’t repeated.

Net profit climbed to $5.1 million in the six months through September from $2.3m a year earlier when it recognised a $1.5m loss on the sale of a building. Augusta has been reshaping itself away from directly investing in property to focus on property syndication and funds management.

That’s reflected in a 32 per cent increase in management fee income to $4.2m, while the firm’s smaller direct property portfolio generated rental income of $1.9m, down 30 per cent from a year earlier. Adjusted funds from operations, which Augusta says reflects its underlying performance, rose 16 per cent to $4.6m.

“The material improvement in the FY19 interim result reflects the early benefits of Augusta’s transition to a funds management

“The launch and expansion of investor funds, including fees from assets under management, are now core to the company’s growth story.”

The board declared a fully imputed second-quarter dividend of 1.5 cents per share, payable on December 20 with a December 13 record date. It’s targeting an annual return of 6 cents per share, which will be up from 5.625 cents in the March 2018 financial year.

During the period Augusta completed a $75m equity raising for the Augusta Industrial Fund, which owns four industrial properties managed by the firm. It also raised $68.5m of equity to buy an office building. Both offers were oversubscribed, and managing director Mark Francis said he’s targeting the tourism sector for Augusta’s next multi-asset deal similar to the industrial fund.

The firm this week purchased property in Queenstown to develop a hotel to support that goal. It is also investigating other potential properties in Queenstown and Auckland.

Augusta shares last traded at $1.09. They have gained 1.4 per cent so far this year, compared to a 0.1 per cent increase on the S&P/NZX All Index during the same period.