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Wakefield Health profit jumps 63% on demand for services

Friday 7th November 2008

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Wakefield Health Ltd.'s first-half profit jumped 63%, reflecting year-earlier losses from an investment and increased demand for services at its hospitals.

Profit rose to NZ$6.1 million in the six months ended Sept. 30, from NZ$38 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Sales rose 13% to NZ$40.8 million.

The private surgical and medical health services company said it managed to keep a lid on costs as sales rose, fattening its margins.

The company has paid down debt as profit rose, reducing gearing to 10.3% from 20.4% a year ago, it said. It raised the first-half dividend payment by 25% to 10 cents a share.

The company is seeking investments to expand, particularly in the Auckland region. Second half results are typically below the first half because it includes the January holiday period. The company hasn't yet seen evidence of a drop in demand because of the contracting economy, it said.

Shares of Wakefield rose 0.7% to NZ$7.80 and have declined about 9% this year.

By Jonathan Underhill

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