By David Winning

SYDNEY--Transurban reported a sharp rise in interim profit while keeping its distribution guidance for the full year unchanged as traffic on its global network of toll roads increased in volume.

Transurban reported a net profit attributable to securityholders of 204 million Australian dollars (US$133 million) in the six months through December, compared to a A$41 million profit at the same stage of fiscal 2023.

Proportional toll revenue--the company's preferred measure of the performance of its roads--increased by 6.3% to A$1.76 billion in the six-month period. Proportional earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization--or Ebitda--rose by 7.5% to A$1.33 billion.

Transurban kept its distribution guidance for the full year steady at 62 Australian cents a security. Its first-half payout, which was pre-released, totaled A$0.30 a share.

Transurban is benefiting from an expansion of its toll roads in Australia at a time when the country's population growth is surging, driven by an influx of migrants after border controls introduced to contain the spread of Covid-19 were lifted. In late November, the Rozelle interchange opened to extend the reach of the WestConnex toll road in Sydney and Transurban said on Thursday that it is performing in line with its assumptions.

"We have had traffic growth across all the markets in which we operate, with overall group traffic reaching around 2.5 million average trips a day," said Michelle Jablko, Transurban's new chief executive.

Transurban has also touted its resilience to inflation, which ran hot in the pandemic's aftermath but has since fallen to a two-year low. Around two-thirds of its toll escalations are linked to the Consumer Price Index. The company has taken on more debt as it expands its toll-road network, but says its weighted average cost of Australian dollar-denominated debt has stayed broadly stable at 4.3% despite interest rates moving higher during 2023.

"The corporate liquidity headroom of A$2.6 billion provides optionality for funding near term opportunities," Jablko said.

Still, the company faces some challenges to its growth. A proposed acquisition of a majority stake in Horizon Roads, owner of the EastLink toll road in Melbourne, has been opposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on the grounds that it would be likely to substantially lessen competition for future toll road concessions in Victoria.

Transurban said it's continuing to assess available in relation to EastLink.

Write to David Winning at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-07-24 1628ET