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Augusta lifts 1H earnings 11% as Victoria Dock syndication drives revenue

Augusta Capital, the listed property investor and fund manager, lifted first-half earnings 11 percent as its Victoria Dock syndication helped drive revenue in its funds management unit, and as it bedded in an expanded property portfolio.

Distributable earnings, the firm's favoured measure as it strips out property portfolio revaluations and one-off transactions, rose to $3.61 million, or 4.31 cents per share, in the six months ended Sept. 30, from $3.25 million, or 4 cents a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Net profit rose 76 percent to $3.85 million.

Revenue at its funds management unit soared to $6.03 million from $1.29 million with the Victoria Dock syndication with Spark New Zealand as tenant attracted more than half of that in upfront fees. The firm's investment property unit reported a 41 percent drop in revenue to $2.29 million, as vacancy levels weighed and as an accounting adjustment removed $830,000 of revenue to consolidate a short-term joint venture.

"The reduction in vacancies has been pleasing and we have not only dealt with the consequences of vacancies but have secured quality tenants in refurbished buildings," the company said. "We would expect that improved earnings and the capital spend will be reflected in property valuation assessments at March 2015."

In March, the company bought property investors KCL Property and Investment Property Titles for a combined $15.4 million in cash and scrip, giving it about 165 properties to manage, with some $1.1 billion in funds under management.

Augusta's property portfolio had an occupancy of 94 percent at Sept. 30 compared to 84 percent in March.

Last month the board declared a second quarter dividend of 1.25 cents per share, and the company today said it anticipates annual cash distributions of 5 cents in the year ended March 31, 2015.

The shares rose 2.6 percent to 98.5 cents, and have gained 26 percent this year.