February 13, 2018 / 11:14 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Dexus Property HY profit jumps, announces buyback

(Adds CEO comment, distribution and background)

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Australian real estate investment trust Dexus Property Group said on Wednesday half-yearly net profit rose 39 percent thanks to rising property valuations in its portfolio.

Net profit was A$997.1 million ($783.42 million), the company said on Wednesday, compared to A$716 million a year ago.

The company also announced plans to buy back up to 5 percent of its securities over the next 12 months, worth about A$480 million at Tuesday’s close.

“We expect to see support for real estate values over the next 12 months as a result of the strength of property fundamentals in Sydney and Melbourne along with the improving fundamentals in Perth and Brisbane,” said CEO Darren Steinberg.

Dexus reported first-half underlying funds from operations (FFO) of A$307.5 million, up 7 percent from a year ago.

A booming property market and tight office occupancy rates in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s biggest cities, have historically boosted the book value of office block owner investors’ portfolios.

The company’s stock, which last year was hovering near its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, has fallen about 3 percent this year.

Dexus raised its interim distribution to 23.7 cents per security, from 21.7 cents a year ago.

$1 = 1.2728 Australian dollars Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Byron Kaye and Chris Reese

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