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SeaLink sets new $22.3m profit tidemark

AAP logoAAP 10/08/2016 Andrew Leeson

Falling fuel prices and Grange sipping tourists have given Australia's largest marine transport and tourism business, SeaLink, a bumper year with profits more than doubling.

SeaLink Travel Group, the operator of Captain Cook cruises, reported a swell in full-year profit to $22.3 million as fuel costs fell by $1.3 million and the addition of Australia's biggest private ferry fleet boosted its bottom line.

The marine tourism and transport company said on Thursday that profit for the 12 months to June 30 was up $13 million on the previous year, with the former Transit Systems Marine business in Queensland contributing $17.6 million in pre-interest and tax profit.

By 1500 AEST, the company's share price had jumped 30 cents, or 6.82 per cent to $4.70.

Managing director Jeff Ellison said SeaLink expected most of its businesses to maintain momentum next year.

"As we see more and more tourists coming to Australia but also in the domestic market, we are quite buoyant on the future there," Mr Ellison said.

SeaLink's Penfolds Gold and Platinum dinner cruises alongside new ferry routes in Sydney harbour helped the NSW business increase its sales by nearly 11 per cent.

If tourism numbers did fall, however, the business would be protected by its commuter operations, Mr Ellison said.

"The diversified nature of our business actually helps, the fact that we're both in transport and tourism," he said.

A new agreement with the Tonga government had paved the way for the company to make further inroads on the international market, Mr Ellison said.

But a few obstacles remained domestically as the NSW government was still holding back on rolling out its Opal card system to all of SeaLink's ferry services, while SeaLink still isn't operating from Manly wharf.

"We're working with the departments ... (Manly) would be an important step for us if we could achieve it," Mr Ellison said.

Fuel costs were expected to rise over the next 12 months and any increase beyond expectations would be passed on to customers, Mr Ellison said.

The company lifted final dividend 3.5 cents to 7.5 cents, fully franked.

SEALINK RIDES PROFIT WAVE

* Net profit up 140pct to $22.3m

* Revenue up 59pct to $176.7m

* Final dividend up 3.5 cents to 7.5 cents, fully franked

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