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Mainfreight profit rises

Thursday 21st August 2008

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Mainfreight Group, the nation's biggest trucking firm, posted a 41% gain in quarterly earnings as it won market share in New Zealand and benefited from growth in the US market.

Profit from continuing operations rose to NZ$8.2 million in the three months ended June 30, from NZ$5.8 million in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement. Year-earlier net income included a NZ$61 million gain from the sale of its LEP and Pan Orient interests.

Shares of Mainfreight have outpaced the benchmark NZX 50 Index this year as it won new customers in New Zealand, helping make up for business from existing clients that was little changed from the previous year. Margins were little changed, it said today.

"Increased market share has provided good growth during challenging economic conditions," managing director Don Braid said in the statement. The company's spread of operations, in New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the US will offer "many growth opportunities."

Mainfreight rose 1.1% to NZ$7.20, bringing its gain this year to about 6%, while the NZX 50 fell 18%.

Earnings growth at the company's New Zealand international business stalled, reflecting poor export volumes of products such as perishable airfreight. In Australia, EBITDA dropped about 19% on costs to expand, while international from Australia fell 3.6%.

In the US, its Mainfreight USA and CaroTrans units posted earnings of US$3.63 million.

By Jonathan Underhill

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