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Intueri misses annual earnings forecast on New Zealand performance

Intueri Education Group, New Zealand's largest private training college, missed its annual earnings forecast as its New Zealand businesses lagged behind expectations.

The Auckland-based company, which listed on the New Zealand stock exchange in May, posted net profit of $4 million in calendar 2014, 49 percent lower than its $7.9 million prospectus forecast. In the latest period, the company wrote down the value of its Design & Arts College by $1.3 million to reflect a slower-than-expected recovery following the Christchurch earthquake, and it included a $200,000 provision relating to charges laid by WorkSafe after the death of a foreign student enrolled at its dive school.

The company's New Zealand business reported revenue of $34.5 million, 13 percent lower than its prospectus forecast. while its international revenue was 4 percent ahead of forecast at $19 million. The company is in talks about further acquisitions as it looks to bolster its course offerings, having agreed this month to buy the Information Technology Training Institute following its purchase of the New Zealand-based education provider Quantum Education Group, Online Courses Australia Group and Academy Group NZ.

"The Australian online and the New Zealand international segments performed strongly, however the New Zealand domestic segment was softer than anticipated and was impacted by a slower rebound in Christchurch and the dive school related issues," said chief executive Rob Facer.

Shares in the company dropped 2.8 percent to a six-week low of $2.80.

Intueri expects earnings before interest, tax and amortisation of $30 million to $33 million this year, it said. That compares with a $30.1 million Ebita forecast in its prospectus and Ebita of $17.9 million in 2014.

"While trading was softer than anticipated in the New Zealand domestic market, the fundamentals of the business in this important sector remain sound and we are also encouraged by the ongoing momentum and strong progress being made in our Australian online and New Zealand international segments," Facer said.

The company will pay a dividend of 7.7 cents per share on March 30, in line with its forecast. Its net debt fell to $11.3 million from $17.5 million at the time of its initial public offering.

It said a court hearing is scheduled for April 14 regarding the charges against its dive school. An independent investigation relating to pre-Intueri record keeping inconsistencies at the dive school is underway and expected to be completed by the end of March, it said.