Transurban posts higher earnings, shares rise

The Australian toll road developer posted a 7.6% increase in toll revenues for the full year ending 30 June. The increase was attributed to ‘resilient’ traffic on its toll roads.

Australian toll road developer Transurban today reported a rise in its underlying earnings for the full year ended 30 June 2009, a result fueled by what it called “resilient” traffic numbers on its portfolio of seven toll roads.

The firm’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 11.5 percent to A$583.4 million (€341 million; $488.2 million) for the year, versus A$523 million for the year prior. Toll revenues rose 7.6 percent to A$778.7 million, versus $723.4 million.

Transurban attributed the toll revenue increase to “resilient traffic numbers” on its roads, of which only one, the Sydney M1, posted a decrease in traffic over the year. At 6 percent, the Sydney M7 posted the largest increase in traffic over the period.

In a statement, management also highlighted better-than-expected cost reductions of A$26.6 million over the year and the successful refinancing of A$980 million of non-recourse debt facilities on two its toll roads, the Hills M2 and Eastern Distributor.

The firm declared a biannual distribution of 11 cents per security, payable on 28 August. The declaration brings its total distributions for the year to 22 cents.

In business since 1996, Transurban has grown from a single-purpose business focused on the Melbourne CityLink toll road to an owner and operator of stakes in eight toll road assets in the US and Australia. Of those, seven are operational and one, the Capital Beltway in Virginia, is still in development.

Transurban shares finished the day’s trading on the Sydney Stock Exchange up .5 percent, closing on A$4.17.