Without the sale of Landmark and the Girrah coal deposit the previous year, the net profit after goodwill amortisation was $569.2 million which still represents an increase of 18.1% over the $481.9 million earned in 2002/03.
However, operating revenue of $1 billion from the group’s energy businesses was 9.3% below the $1.1 billion recorded in 2002/03, with earnings before interest and tax of $240.2 million down 7.5% on the $259.8 million earned last year.
Total sales volumes from the company’s Curragh coal mine in Queensland of 6.9 million tonnes (4.6 million export and 2.3 million domestic) were 12% above those achieved in 2002/03. Earnings for the year were 13.8% below last year’s due to lower export coking coal prices, stronger exchange rates and higher overall costs.
Premier Coal in Collie, Western Australia, achieved sales volumes of 3.4 million tonnes in 2003/04, in line with last year’s. Earnings for the year were similar to those recorded last year.
Wesfarmers holds a 40% interest in the Bengalla coal mine in New South Wales which had sales volumes of 5.8 million tonnes, slightly higher than last year’s with a corresponding increase in revenue.
Kleenheat Gas’ overall sales volumes were in line with last year’s with the acquisition of Peters Gas (operating in Victoria and South Australia) as well as growth in the bulk and cylinder markets offsetting reduced autogas volumes. Earnings were below last year’s due to higher international LPG prices impacting margins and competitive pressures in autogas.
Overall Wesfarmers LPG achieved export volumes of 221,000 tonnes, which was slightly below last year.
The bright spot among the entities came from the 40%-owned Air Liquide W.A. where earnings were above last year’s due to continued sales revenue growth, while the performance of StateWest Power was significantly better than last year, due mainly to the commencement of operations of the Mid-West Power project.
Revenues increased by 32% whilst earnings were significantly higher than those achieved last year.
In the upcoming year the company said earnings from the gas businesses will once again be dependent on the level of international LPG prices and domestic competition.
There will be a focus on completing negotiations to secure satisfactory gas supply arrangements for Wesfarmers LPG beyond 30 June 2005, on completing new projects such as the $45.0 million Air Liquide plant to service HIsmelt and on securing expansion opportunities for StateWest Power.