Toll lifts first half profit by 20%

Transport and logistics group Toll Holdings has lifted its first half profit by more than 20 per cent and expects stronger earnings for the rest of the year.

Toll's net profit rose to $192 million in the six months to December 31, from $158 million in the previous corresponding period.

Sales revenue rose 2.5 per cent to $4.5 billion from $4.4 billion.

Toll lifted its fully-franked interim dividend by one cent to 12.5 cents a share.

Managing director Brian Kruger said Toll would continue to focus on winning business and improving its operations as he did not expect the external economic environment would get any better in the short term.

"Overall, the company expects its results for the second half of the year to be better than for the same period last year," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Mr Kruger said the first half result was driven by new contracts, increasing revenue, productivity improvements and reduced costs.

"We recognise that all parts of the business will need to retain a strong focus on productivity improvements and increased efficiency to ensure we maintain our leading position in what remains a highly competitive marketplace," he said.

Toll's first half result included a $22 million net gain from non-recurring items.

There was a $52 million after tax gain on the sale of Toll's vehicle distribution business and Toll Refrigerated's linehaul and warehousing business.

The result also included a $30 million impairment charge related to some assets in Toll Marine Logistics Asia following a strategic review of that business.

During the first half, Toll Global Resources lifted earnings and revenues thanks to a boost from increased activity associated with LNG projects.

However, Toll Mining Services was adversely affected by reduced customer activity and operational issues.

Toll Global Forwarding had lower gross profits which were offset by cost cuts and productivity improvements.

The Australian operations of Toll Global Express also lifted revenue despite difficult operating conditions, with margins under pressure.

The division's Japan business reported a small loss, with economic conditions there still challenging.

"Activities to offset this macro decline, including initiatives targeting operational efficiencies, continue to improve the business," Toll said.

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