AURIZON today reported group earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of $847 million for the half of the year ending on 31 December.

This was up 26% against the prior comparable period.

It was mainly due to coal EBITDA increasing by $53 million (or 23%) to $283 million with higher revenue resulting from increased volumes (up 4%) and improved revenue yield due to the mix of volume between corridors and customers in addition to CPI indexation.

Bulk EBITDA increases by $12 million to $112 million and network EBITDA increased by $123 million (34%) to $486 million, driven by a recovery in volumes and an uplift in the Maximum Allowed Revenue as a result of the reset of the Regulated Asset Base and the preliminary weighted average cost of capital applying to tariffs from 1 July.

Underlying net profit after tax was $237 million – a 40% increase compared to 1HFY2023.

Return on invested capital increased by 0.5ppt to 9% compared to 1HFY2023 and free cash flow increased by $161 million to $256 million.

The Aurizon board has declared an interim dividend payment of 9.7 cents per share, 60% franked, which is 75% on NPAT.  

The dividend will be paid on 27 March, 2024, to shareholders on the register at the record date of 27 February, 2024.

Managing director and CEO Andrw Harding said: “this was a strong result for the half, underpinned by solid performance in the network and coal businesses and with continued revenue and volume growth in bulk and containerised freight”.

“The business remains on track for delivering its full schedule of national linehaul services from April 2024. In addition to the 11-year contract with Team Global Express announced in February 2023, containerised freight is now railing spot volume for three additional customers.”

Group underlying EBITDA guidance for FY2024 has been maintained at a range of $1,590 million – $1,680 million. Sustaining capex is expected to be $600 million – $660 million (including ~$40 million of transformational project capital) and growth capex is expected to be $250 million – $300 million.

Key assumptions:

Network: revenue and EBITDA expected to be higher than FY2023 driven by an increase in the (regulated) maximum allowable revenue. Volumes are now assumed to be ahead of the approved regulatory forecast (207.8mt).

Coal: revenue and EBITDA expected to be higher than FY2023 driven by volumes and revenue yield improvement. Compared to 1HFY2024, a lower revenue yield is expected in 2HFY2024 due to the anticipated corridor/customer mix.

Bulk: revenue and EBITDA expected to be higher than FY2023 driven by volumes and the full year inclusion of bulk central (and full realisation of targeted synergies).