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New Zealand's Fletcher posts modest annual net profit

New Zealand's largest listed company Fletcher Building posted a four per cent rise in annual net profit Wednesday (Aug 20) as a strong performance in its home market offset weakness in Australia.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand's largest listed company Fletcher Building posted a four per cent rise in annual net profit Wednesday (Aug 20) as a strong performance in its home market offset weakness in Australia. The Auckland-based entity said net profit for the 12 months to the end of June was NZ$339 million (S$356.7 million), up from NZ$326 million in the previous year.

Chief executive Mark Adamson said the strong New Zealand dollar weighed on the result, which was slightly below market expectations. "We would have met the top end of our guidance range had the New Zealand dollar not strengthened the way it has over the past year," he said.

He said the bottom line also took a NZ$32 million hit from the sale of Pacific Steel and Hudson Building Supplies, although the company managed 10 per cent earnings growth of NZ$624 million when one-off factors were stripped out of the equation.

In New Zealand, where the Auckland property market is booming and a massive rebuild is under way in Christchurch following a devastating 2011 earthquake, operating earnings were up 27 per cent at NZ$362 million.

In Australia, Fletcher's second largest market, earnings plunged 16 per cent to NZ$171 million as the end of the country's long mining boom impacted on the building sector. "Activity levels in the commercial construction sector were flat and reduced state government infrastructure expenditure and depressed mining activity impacted results," the company said.

Fletcher said it expected further earnings growth in the 2015 financial year as the strong construction backlog in New Zealand came online and trading conditions in Australia improved. Shares in Fletcher building were down 0.77 per cent at NZ$9.01 in morning trade on an NZX 50 market that was otherwise flat.

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