The BlueScope financial report, released today, showed a $92.7m net profit after tax for the first half of the 2015 financial year, an $89m increase from the corresponding period last year.
At 31 December 2014 BlueScope’s net debt was $408m, with gearing at 8%, as the company continues to focus on maintaining a strong balance sheet.
Speaking following the release of the BlueScope financial report, BlueScope Chairman, Graham Kraehe AO, said: “The turnaround is successful. Strategic investments in Australian and international growth markets are already translating into earnings performance. BlueScope is building a globally diversified portfolio of assets that positions the Company for the future.
“We are particularly pleased to see the earnings growth in our Australian business where margins have expanded. The recently acquired businesses are performing as planned and we’re benefitting from the best residential construction activity for years.
Off the back of the BlueScope Financial Report, the Board has approved a payment of fully franked interim dividend of three cents per share.
The Australian Steel Products business, which includes the Colorbond brand, delivered underlying EBIT of $64.7m, up 365% on the the first half report in 2014. This performance was driven by lower raw material costs and higher domestic residential building activity. In addition BlueScope saw a positive contribution from the integration of the Orrcon, Fielders and OneSteel Sheet & Coil acquisitions.
BlueScope’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr Paul O’Malley said: “The growth in net profit has taken time and a tremendous team effort by employees across our global portfolio. The result of that effort is Group underlying 1H FY2015 EBIT of $169.7M, up 24 per cent on the same time last year, and up 50 per cent on 2H FY2014.
Disappointingly, the BlueScope Financial Report also revealed the New Zealand Steel & Pacific Steel underlying EBIT was down 93% compared to last year to $2.6m, due, the Bluescope said, to lower iron sands prices and volumes.
In Asia and North America the BlueScope Building Products business delivered underlying EBIT of $47.8m, down 6% on 1H FY2014. Volume and margin in Thailand were soft in 1H FY2015, following the political unrest. The contribution from Indonesia and India lifted, with a slightly weaker performance in Vietnam, Malaysia and North America.
Conversely though, in North America, the Hot Rolled Products segment delivered another excellent result for the company with underlying EBIT of $67.1m, a 38% lift on 1H FY2014. At North Star BlueScope Steel, despatches continued at 100% of production.