Auckland International Airport, the nation's busiest gateway, posted an 11 percent increase in first-half profit and lifted its full-year guidance as growth in domestic passenger traffic made up for a decline in those from overseas.
Profit rose to $76.9 million in the six months ended December 31, from $69 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement.
Sales rose 3.6 percent to $223.6 million. Profit and sales beat First NZ Capital's forecasts for $75.2 million and $221.4 million respectively.
The airport company lifted its first-half dividend to 5.75 cents a share and upped its full-year guidance for profit before one-time items of $145 million to $153 million, from a previous range of $143 million to $150 million.
"Performance for the first six months has been slightly ahead of expectations, particularly domestic passenger volume growth," the company said. "While challenges to aviation demand remain, we now have a modestly higher expectation for the FY2013 period."
Shares of the airport company last traded at $2.705 and have gained 7.7 percent in the past six months. The stock is rated a 'hold' based on a Reuters poll of 10 analysts, with a median price target of $2.81.
Total international passengers fell 1.8 percent to 3.89 million, partly reflecting an influx in the year-earlier period related to the Rugby World Cup.
The decline reflected a 25 percent drop in transit passengers, which the company said reflected the exit of Qantas Airways on the Los Angeles route from Sydney and Aerolineas Argentinas on the Buenos Aires route. Excluding transits, international traffic was up 0.2 percent.
Domestic passengers rose 7.2 percent to 3.36 million, reflecting increased capacity and number of flights by both Air New Zealand and Jetstar, it said.