Aurizon punished for lack of guidance
Australia’s largest listed rail company, Aurizon, has suffered one of its sharpest one-day falls since it was floated more than two years ago, after its half-year earnings failed to meet market expectations.
The company formerly known as QR National posted a 36 per cent rise in underlying pre-tax profit to $356 million for the half, which was lower than analysts’ expectations of between $370 million and $380 million.
Shares in Aurizon fell more than 6 per cent, or 26 cents, to $3.95 in trading this afternoon.
Aurizon also lowered its forecasts for the amount of coal it expects to haul this financial year to between 192 million and 195 million tonnes. It has previously forecast coal volumes of between 195 million and 205 million tonnes.
The company blamed the reduced forecast on heavy rains and flooding in Queensland last month, which was the result of Cyclone Oswald. A train derailment was also blamed.
Apart from missing expectations for the first half, analysts were also disappointed about Aurizon’s lack of specific earnings guidance for the full financial year.
‘‘A lack of guidance in this market has been punished,’’ one said.
Aurizon posted a net profit of $176 million for the first half, down from $196 million previously. The bottom-line result includes $61 million in after-tax payments for redundancies. Revenue rose 9 per cent to $1.9 billion.
It will pay an interim dividend of 4.1 cents a share on March 27, up from 3.7 cents previously.
Since January, heavy rains and flooding from Cyclone Oswald have affected rail networks in central Queensland, including the Blackwater and Moura coal systems.
The Moura system was reopened last night after a 26-day outage.
The larger Blackwater system was cleared for trains earlier this month after a 12-day shutdown, but more recently suffered four days of disruption caused by a derailment.
Aurizon expects the bill for repair work to tracks to cost as much as $15 million, most of which it hopes to recoup.
It also expects a $22 million hit to pre-tax earnings from lost coal volumes due to the floods, and a further $5 million shaved from earnings due to the train derailment.