February 25 - McAleese, the Australia-based specialised transport and logistics provider, has reported a AUD52.5 million (USD41.4 million) net profit after tax for the first half year ended December 31, 2014, which is a great improvement on last year's AU

The results were buoyed by asset sales during the period, which generated AUD86.8 million (USD68.5 million) in net proceeds and included divestment of Liquip International and Beta Fluid Systems for AUD68.3 million (USD53.9 million) and the sale of surplus Cootes Transport and Heavy Haulage & Lifting (HH&L) division equipment at AUD9.8 million (USD7.7 million) and AUD8.3 million (USD6.5 million) respectively.

"Despite difficult conditions within some of our key end markets, we have delivered a result that was on plan for the period," managing director and ceo Mark Rowsthorn says.

"Our near term focus is to continue to enhance our existing operations, to extract efficiencies and further strengthen our capital structure.

"As the outlook for our key end markets stabilise it remains our intention to diversify our operations into new activities and geographies."

Despite these difficult conditions, readers will recall that McAleese paid AUD3 million (USD2.3 million) to purchase 50 per cent of Heavy Haulage Australia (HHA) in December 2014.

But the company said that the onset of challenging market conditions in the Australian infield oil and gas sector post McAleese's initial equity investment in HHA, combined with HHA's leveraged capital structure has resulted in a decision to impair that initial equity investment of AUD3 million (USD2.3 million).

Whilst the company's bulk haulage and oil & gas division made significant improvements, the company's specialised transport, heavy haulage and lifting division continued to struggle.

McAleese Group has commenced a comprehensive review of the Heavy Haulage & Lifting division in light of softening conditions in the resources and infrastructure sectors. The review will consider fleet size, mix and valuation, and seek to reduce overheads and identify synergy opportunities with other divisions.

Despite the challenges affecting some of our key end markets, the company has continued to strengthen its operations and balance sheet during the period. We are committed to activities that further deleverage and stabilise our business and best position us to take advantage of medium term diversification opportunities," Rowsthorn concluded.