Air New Zealand Soars to 2-Year High on Result: Wellington Mover

Air New Zealand Ltd., the nation’s largest carrier, rose to a two-year high after more than doubling first-half profit and saying that second-half earnings would beat the corresponding period last year.

Net income rose to NZ$100 million ($83 million) in the six months ended Dec. 31 from NZ$38 million a year earlier, the Auckland-based company said in a statement today. The shares rose to NZ$1.40, their highest close since Feb. 18, 2011.

“This is the best interim profit result for five years,” Chairman John Palmer said in the statement. “The substantial change program the airline has been implementing has positioned the business for consistent growth.”

Air New Zealand has responded to sluggish global demand by cutting costs, using more fuel-efficient planes and abandoning some unprofitable routes. Its long-haul unit made a profit for the first time since the global financial crisis started five years ago, according to the statement.

“Fuel and currency they can’t do anything about,” Chris Byrne, an Auckland-based analyst at Craigs Investment Partners, said in an interview. “All they can do is control what they can control, and they’re doing a very good job of it.”

The shares rose 5.5 cents, or 4.1 percent, at the 5 p.m. close of trading in Wellington. Earlier they reached NZ$1.41.

Air New Zealand expects second-half normalized earnings before tax will “comfortably exceed” the corresponding period last year, Palmer said.

The airline will also lease two additional Boeing Co. 777-300ER aircraft by the second half of 2014, Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon said in a conference call with reporters today. The company had five in operation as at June last year, according to its website.