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Tourism Holdings first-half profit slides on investment in Thor JV

Tuesday 26th February 2019

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Tourism Holdings posted a 23 percent decline in first-half profit as the rental RV operator continued to invest in its joint venture with Thor Industries to develop a digital-based company. 

Net profit was $17.5 million in the six months ended Dec. 31, down from $22.8 million a year earlier. Tourism Holdings invested $5.4 million in the 50/50 TH2 joint venture with Thor, in line with expectations, which contributed to a $4.9 million share of losses from its joint ventures. 

Excluding that activity, earnings before interest and tax rose 4 percent to $34.7 million on a 1 percent decline in revenue to $207.3 million, with the US rental and Kiwi Experience businesses posting weaker results. 

Tourism Holdings lowered its guidance for annual earnings, predicting net profit of $32 million in the year through June 2019, having previously projected profit to be $32-34 million. It also warned of a potential Australian tax liability of A$2.5 million. 

Chief executive Grant Webster said Tourism Holdings was still experiencing growth in forward bookings, despite growing uncertainty in international tourism markets. 

The shares dropped 5.4 percent to $4.38, lagging behind a 0.1 percent increase on the wider S&P/NZX 50 index. 

The tourism operator has transformed itself under the chairmanship of Rob Campbell, who was appointed in 2013, selling off extra capacity and fattening margins during a boom time for the industry, while also expanding in the US through acquisitions. 

That plan sought to generate annual profit of $50 million by the 2020 financial year, however, it's pushed that out for a year.

The board declared an unchanged interim dividend of 13 cents per share, payable on April 16, and it anticipates a final dividend of 14 cents. 

"We would prefer to continue to provide attractive dividends to shareholders today and then, if an acquisition opportunity is realised that requires equity, we will address that with shareholders at the time," Campbell and Webster said in the interim report. "This, again, creates a strong discipline in the business to manage capital appropriately."

Tourism Holdings was pursuing several merger and acquisition opportunities, and in January gave up on a material acquisition it had investigated for some time. 

The company is hard-nosed in assessing buying and selling assets, walking away from a prospective suitor for some of its New Zealand tourism businesses last year who tried to lower the price in the final rounds of negotiation. 

A Chapman Tripp report on local M&A activity out today showed the global market conditions were cooling for transactions, with buyers more cautious with the political and economic uncertainty, and regulatory changes likely to stifle access to credit. 

Tourism Holdings sees the TH2 venture as a central pillar for its growth strategy, which ultimately seeks to double the value of the business in three years. Including today's decline, Tourism Holdings market capitalisation is $542.1 million, meaning the plan is to build a billion-dollar business. 

(BusinessDesk)

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