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Ryman rides high on health sector wave

Friday 5th December 2003

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Investors with an eye for the healthcare sector have had an impressive six months with notable increases in the share prices of all the key players.

One of them, Christchurch-based Ryman Healthcare, has reported a significant lift in interim earnings and is on track for another year of double-digit growth. The retirement home operator recorded a net profit of $8.3 million for the six months to September, up 10.6% for the period.

That followed a 38.3% increase in net profit to $15.13 million for the 2002 year.

Since May the shares have rocketed 37.5% and, with their price of about $2.10, have surpassed their previous peak of $2 way back in January 2000.

Like its peers, Ryman is putting heavy emphasis on this country's ageing population and is planning further development in the North Island.

The company operates 12 retirement villages and is building a new complex in Napier. During the previous six months it opened two new hospitals, in Wellington and Lower Hutt.

ABN Amro has a positive rating on Ryman's prospects and notes any cyclical slowdown will only have a muted effect on earnings. This is because the company has not priced its new developments too aggressively; therefore providing some headroom should the property market soften substantially.

Investors will be hoping the company can continue its strong earnings growth and take full advantage of what is a long-term growth sector.

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