By Ian Neubauer
Australian Leisure and Entertainment Group (ALE) — the largest owner of pubs in Australia — has posted an after tax net profit of $19.7 million for the first half of the 2007-08 fiscal year.
The figure represents a 33.5 per cent decrease compared to the corresponding period in 2006. The company has attributed the decrease to lower fair value adjustments for investment properties and increased finance costs.
ALE’s revenue increased 2.5 per cent year on year, while distribution per stapled security increased by 7 per cent, up from $15.70 to $16.75.
Property evaluations and acquisitions drove up the company’s portfolio value to $813.9 million, representing a 5.8 per cent increase compared to June 2007.
ALE managing director Andrew Wilkinson said the company would be looking to capitalise on a consolidating pub property market as mounting interest rates and other factors begin to squeeze some smaller operators out.
“Our view is the pipeline of acquisitions will grow as we expect some sales may be forced,” Wilkinson told The Australian Financial Review. “We potentially see more value coming back into the market, but ALE will be very disciplined in acquiring only low-risk, high-quality pubs with secure long-term leases.
ALE shares opened at $3.20 today and fell 8 cents by 3:00pm.