Austal continues to ride the swell

AUSTAL Limited managing director Bob McKinnon said the local shipbuilder had delivered as promised when the company’s annual results were released this week.

Austal reported revenue of $343.6 million to June 30, up 77 per cent on 2001, and net profit (after tax and outside equity interests) of $30.4 million, a 110 per cent comparable increase.

The company also announced a fully franked dividend of 5 cents per share.

Describing the year as “a very good year”, Mr McKinnon did not shy away from acknowledging profitability would be “a bit lower” during the current year and “substantially lower” should the company not gain a large ferry order for the year.

However, he also outlined his rationale for believing the company had strong prospects.

The industry relied on reference boats, and the Greg Norman yacht – due for delivery in October – would create a lot of attention, he said. Austal’s luxury yacht subsidiary Oceanfast secured another contract earlier this month, on reference from the Sagitta, an Oceanfast yacht delivered more than a year ago, and now had five yachts on order.

In addition to the luxury yacht market, the group, which now employed 1800 people, was receiving good levels of inquiries across the spectrum, he said. Subsidiary Austal USA scored two contracts – a dinner cruise vessel and passenger catamaran - into the New York market mid-year, and has also won an order for a Florida dinner cruise vessel. The company is holding out for an important home market coup, to supply the Royal Australian Navy with new Fremantle class patrol boats.

– Susan Bower

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