ALE Tightens Shareholders’ Belts
By Ian Neubauer
The ALE Property Group‘s fifth anniversary was tarnished by a forecast for lower shareholder distributions at its annual general meeting this week.
ALE chairman Peter Warne said the board expects to distribute at least 30 cents per share in 2009 compared to 33.6 cents paid this year.
“On this day and at this hour exactly five years ago, ALE commenced trading on the Australian Securities Exchange,” he said. “Over five years we have witnessed significant changes in both the property and capital markets and amid all those changes, I am please to report that ALE has delivered a relatively outstanding set of result.
“That said, we meet today at a troubled time in Australia — and world — financial markets… The environment has been marked by high profile underperformance and failure by some businesses in our sector. As you know, our security price has not been immune from this event.”
Looking forward, Warne said ALE’s strategy and financial position remained “fundamentally sound” but that the board would continue to review strategies in light of challenging market conditions.
“While we are realistic about the possibility that the property and capital markets might take some time to bounce back, we believe that we are well positioned for the recovery, and that we may, in fact, be able to take advantage of opportunities to acquire some high quality long-term assets at good prices at some time in the future,” he said.
ALE’s portfolio of pubs and clubs is worth $842.4 million compared to $576.7 million when the company launched in 2004. It acquired four pubs this year for $53.3 million and is Australia’s largest pub owner.
ALE shares were trading at $2.50 at midday today (November 14) compared to $2.80 seven days ago.