Trade Me profit exceeds forecast

Trade Me, the online auction site spun out of Fairfax Media in 2011, lifted first-half profit 2.7 per cent, beating the forecast in its offer document as its classified advertising rallied.

Net profit rose to $37.4 million in the six months ended December 31 from $36.4 million a year earlier, the Wellington-based company said in a statement.

That beat the revised forecast from its initial public offer of $34.8 million, and just short of Forsyth Barr analyst Rob Mercer's expected $38.1 million.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and depreciation climbed 14 per cent to $59.2 million, and revenue gained 18 per cent to $80.4 million.

Chief executive Jon Macdonald said Trade Me made three small acquisitions in the past year, and plans to keep "investing sensibly" to grow.

"We'll likely augment our portfolio with judicious investments over the coming years," he said.

Mr Macdonald said the company is comfortable with analysts' forecasts for annual earnings, with trading in the last six weeks consistent with the first half.

He said Trade Me has expanded its mobile team and built a suite of applications with a third of visits coming on mobile devices, twice the number a year earlier.

Trade Me is expected to post net profit of $77.5 million on sales of $163.9 million, based on the median forecasts compiled by Reuters.

The board declared an unfranked interim dividend of 7.5 cents per share.

The shares rose 0.5 per cent to $4.41 in trading on Tuesday, and have gained 11 per cent this year. The stock is rated an average 'hold' based on nine analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $4.145.

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