Seven on the hunt for acquisitions

Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings has posted a $360 million full year loss but the company plans to take advantage of the downturn in the resources sector to go shopping.

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The company, which has interests in industrial services, media, property and resources investments, sank to the full year loss on the back of heavy writedowns and restructuring costs in its mining services businesses.

Underlying profit fell 19 per cent to $203.1 million and the group has flagged a 10 per cent slide in earnings for the year ahead as the weakness in the resources sector continues to bite.

But chief executive Ryan Stokes said the company’s free cash flow remained strong and Seven Group was on the lookout for new acquisitions.

He said that while Seven would “look broadly” across a wide range of industries for acquisitions, the current state of the mining services and oil and gas sectors presented an opportunity to pick up assets and businesses relatively cheaply.

“We have a business that works through that resources cycle and that gives us an opportunity to look at various other segments and sectors,” he told AAP.

“We’ll keep an eye open for opportunities.”

He also said that while the slowdown in mining investment had hurt equipment sales from its WesTrac Australia business, a major Caterpillar dealer, it would benefit from the ongoing increase in production in the resources sector.

“Too often it is seen as purely equipment supply and the support aspect is something that’s integral to our how model,” he said.

“It’s certainly something we think can provide strong profits for us and we think it can be a strong basis for the future.”

However, Seven expects product sales from the business to continue to fall in the next 12 months, while its Coates Hire operation is also expected to suffer due to the downturn in mining, though it will receive a boost from increased infrastructure demand in NSW.

Meanwhile, the company’s Seven TV network subsidiary expects low single-digit growth in the advertising market and improvements for its magazines and newspaper business.

Seven’s shares were down 13 cents, or 2.79 per cent, at $4.53 at 1413 AEST.

SEVEN FEARS EARNINGS SLIDE IN YEAR AHEAD

* Net loss: $359.1m, down from a $262.5m profit

* Revenue: $2.779b, down 10pct

* Fully-franked final dividend: steady at 20 cents a share.