Record profits for G8 Education

CHILDCARE provider G8 Education has posted a record $19.2 million net profit for 2012 when it continued its buying spree, taking its national tally of childcare centres to 167.

The listed Gold Coast company also told the stock exchange yesterday that it had spent $3.3 million to purchase a new headquarters at Varsity Lakes to house growing staff numbers.

G8 employees nationwide now total more than 4200.

The purchase of the 1600sq m property -- the former base of Gold Coast law firm Minter Ellison -- was a savvy buy, picked up for almost half the $6.085 million paid at its previous sale.

Company chair Jenny Hutson told the annual general meeting at the Southport Yacht Club yesterday that G8's growth had seen the company join the ranks of the S&P/ASX 300, an elite index of Australia's top 300 stocks.

Ms Hutson said G8 remained in acquisition mode throughout 2012, adding 33 centres to its childcare-centre stable and selling one.

"That has meant that, in terms of size, we have just over 13,000 children in care," Ms Hutson said.

G8 also announced yesterday that, since January, it had secured the ability to purchase a further 20 centres along the eastern seaboard.

G8 Education's portfolio also includes centres in Singapore where it owns eight, manages 10, and has 51 under franchise.

Ms Hutson said G8 represented just 3 per cent of the long day-care market in Australia and was well geared for future growth.

"Today's result is a great result," she said.

"The company is going extremely well -- it is a significant contributor to childcare in Australia and to business life on the Gold Coast.

"We are looking at acquisitions every day -- we have made no secret about that -- and we will continue to buy the right assets at the right price," she said.

"With only 3 per cent of the market, there is significant room for growth."

G8 Education recorded earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $30.01 million. The company in 2012 raised $35 million through an investor placement which resulted in the issue of somewhat more than 24 million shares, taking total shares on issue to 272 million.

Ms Hutson said the company had increased its annual dividend by 25 per cent from 8 fully franked to 10 fully franked.

"Our share price has also increased from 91 on April 26, 2011, to more than $2.40 at the close on Monday," Ms Hutson said.

G8 shares closed up 1.66 per cent at $2.45 yesterday.