Aspen posts big loss, promises better

UPDATE 1.20pm: Shares in Aspen Group rallied after the property company promised better results after posting a big bottom-line loss.

Aspen posted a statutory first-half loss of $70.2 million on impairments and losses on assets sold or held for sale.

The company's operating profit was $8.3 million, down from $10.6 million in the previous corresponding period.

Aspen will issue an interim dividend of 7.5 cents a share.

Chief executive Clem Salwin said the company's focus since August last year had been on executing a transition of the business to be focused on value-for-money accommodation.

"Progress on this transition has not been without its challenges," he said.

"In particular, we have experienced the impact of very difficult market conditions arising from the much weaker capital expenditure cycle in the resources sector.

"This has resulted in recognition of impairments to the carrying value of some of our assets.

"We have also taken additional impairments as we progress our sales program of assets.

"These impairments are clearly disappointing and have impacted NTA per share."

Aspen's NTA at the end of December was $1.65, down from $2.20 at the end of June.

However the company said it had only $26 million of assets remaining to sell.

Mr Salwin said the company was focused on improving shareowner value and returns which had been unacceptably poor.

"Our priority focus remains on maximising value by executing our transition to be a more simple business, focused on the accommodation sector, with a stronger balance sheet," he said.

Aspen shares closed up 7.5 cents, or 6.36 per cent, at $1.255.

The West Australian

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