In the past year, the firm has bought James Group (August 2006), GM Baden, (March 2007), D&D Crane Hire (April) and Moorland Hire (June). As well as building the firm’s crane fleet by 101 units (to 652), the purchases let it boost staff numbers by 14%, to 1,373, and depots, up from 53 last June to 62 this June.

Strong operating revenues, up 38% year on year to AUD350m meant that, despite the $99.5m cost of the four acquisitions, the company was able to post a net profit after tax AUD36.6m, up 11%, and to pay dividends of 11c a share (up 6%).

Robinson told investors, “We reported an increase in Net Profit after Tax of 11% at $36.6 million. This was established upon a 38% increase in revenue at $350 million. Earnings per share dipped by 1% to 21.5 cents, reflecting the issue of vendor shares as part of the acquisition process and a minimal contribution to earnings from those acquisitions that took place late in the second half.

“Although the overall for the year were generally satisfactory, operating margins came under some pressure as operating schedules were disrupted by extreme weather events in our major operating centres, both in Western Australia and along the east coast. We have also felt the effect of equipment supply delays resulting from continuing strong economic growth.”

Robinson continued, “I noted in the Annual report that new crane orders have extended out to a twelve month delivery. This impacts upon maintenance costs as equipment lives are necessarily extended and applies some constraint to organic growth opportunities. People turnover and management retention issues are also a consequence of strong economic growth and we share these problems with many other market sectors.

“These adverse elements are, however, only a minor irritant when compared to the business benefits being generated from buoyant economic conditions. Increased profits and a positive outlook have again resulted in an increased dividend payment to shareholders with an increase of 6% to 11 cents per share fully franked. In this regard directors have maintained the policy of returning approximately 50% of after tax profits to shareholders through dividend distribution.”

Managing director Mark Lawrence explained the strategy behind the acquisitions: “The James Group acquisition provided Boom with 72 additional dry hire (dry = hired without operators) cranes in a tight equipment supply market, a used cranes sales network capability, and sole Australian distribution rights for the sale of new Tadano cranes, which are imported from Japan. Benefits

“Boom will be able to progressively replace and expand its fleet at a reduced capital cost, and repair and maintain its fleet at a lower cost of operations. [The James acquisition enabled an] extension of our service offering to existing customers and provide access new customers through crane sales activity. It is worth noting that a key driver of crane sales activity is the provision of ‘after sales service’. Boom is well positioned to provide this service having the largest contingent of crane maintenance personnel in Australia.

“Add to this the acquisition of GM Baden, which provides specialist all terrain crane services, and we have the making a superior national after sales service network. The development of this capability will ultimately enhance Tadano market share in Australia.

“The third acquisition made during the year was D&D Cranes in Wollongong NSW. Whilst small, this acquisition provides our NSW operations with added crane support, customer diversity, and puts it in a strong position to undertake future lifting services planned for the region.

“Finally the Moorland Hire acquisition has provided the Boom Sherrin (formerly Sherrin Hire) business with an enhanced presence in Victoria, a complementary customer base, and additional service offering opportunities.”