* Stockland net profit up 5 pct; Boral profit up 73 pct
* Both lifted by improving housing market
* Australian home prices rise 10 pct over the past year
* Boral turns around building products arm
(Recasts with Boral, adds comments on the housing market)
By Maggie Lu Yueyang
SYDNEY, Feb 12 Australia's second-largest
property group Stockland Corp Ltd said first-half net
profit grew 5 percent as the housing market gained momentum,
putting the company on course to reach the upper end of its
full-year earnings guidance.
Home prices across Australia's major cities recorded a 10
percent rise over the past year and extended a strong run in
January on the back of record-low interest rates, which also
spurred a much-needed revival in home building.
Stockland said underlying profit in the half-year ended
December rose to A$267 million ($241.14 million) from A$225
million a year ago, which was just shy of four analysts' average
forecasts of A$271.2 million, according to Reuters calculations.
Net profit rose to A$298 million from a reported loss of
A$147.0 million a year earlier, which was due to asset
A recovery in construction activity also boosted building
materials maker Boral Ltd's, which reported a 73
percent rise in its first-half profit.
Boral shares jumped 9.4 percent to A$5.46 at 0029 GMT,
nearly a three-year high, while Stockland shares rose 2.3
percent after the results. The broader market edged up 0.4
Perpetual portfolio manager Vince Pezzullo said the property
sector was reaping the benefits of a "genuine recovery" in the
"It's not just prices (that are rising) but actual
activity," he said.
Stockland said a "significant improvement in residential"
helped to overcome challenges in the retail and office markets.
Residential operating profit jumped 39 percent in the first
"Our residential business capitalised on the improved
housing market with a substantial uplift in sales," chief
executive Mark Steinert said in a statement.
Analysts are expecting Stockland to look at acquisition
opportunities, particularly in the residential space due to its
lack of exposure to the rapidly growing apartment segment.
Stockland said it expected to achieve the upper end of its
earnings guidance for the 2014 fiscal year, and to grow earnings
per share by 5 percent to 6 percent, assuming no material
decline in the market.
Boral, meanwhile, said it expected performance across its
businesses to improve in the second half through restructuring,
together with the ongoing market recovery in the United States
and improved housing activity in Australia.
Boral reported a 73 percent rise in profit before one-offs
to A$90 million ($81 million) for the six months to Dec. 31, in
line with its forecast on Jan. 28.
Its Australian building products reported a A$23 million
turnaround in the first half, supported by the "tailwind of
improving housing construction demand" in New South Wales and
"Markets in the U.S. are also continuing to strengthen, with
losses from our Boral USA division down 23 percent in the first
half and strong volume growth experienced across all of our U.S.
businesses," Boral chief executive Mike Kane said.
Boral also said it was on track to complete a joint venture
with USG Corp to make plasterboard and ceilings by the
end of February.
($1 = 1.1072 Australian dollars)
(Editing by Stephen Coates)