Henderson - Global shipbuilder Austal has entered the new fiscal year with a $4.9 billion order book, up from $3 billion last year, with 58 vessels under construction or scheduled. Austal chief executive David Singleton called it the aluminium shipbuilder’s best year ever, with full-year profit up 64 per cent to a record $61.4 million. Revenue for the 12 months to June 30 jumped 33 per cent to $1.852 billion, with four-fifths coming from the US. Mr Singleton said Austal USA was the “powerhouse of the business,” and increasingly seen as an important component of US national defence. The US Navy has ordered a total of 33 littoral combat ships and expeditionary fast transport ships from Austal, 20 of which have been delivered, including three last year. Austal shares were up 12.9 per cent to an all-time high of $4.165 at 1330 AEST.
On a conference call with analysts and happy investors who have seen their shares more than double in value this year, Mr Singleton on Friday credited past management for making a bold decision to enter the US defence market 20 years ago. It is the only foreign-owned prime contractor for the US Navy, and its shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, is the fifth-largest shipyard in the USA.
But Austal also disclosed it had spent $11 million responding to investigations by US regulatory authorities and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission over Austal’s littoral, or near shore, combat ship program.