The reception area of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. File picture: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - Growthpoint Properties Ltd., South Africa’s biggest real-estate company, said first-half profit rose 18 percent as the rand weakened against the dollar in Australia where the company also has assets.

Distributable income for the six months through December increased to 1.52 billion rand, compared with 1.29 billion rand a year ago, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today.

Distribution per share rose 8 percent to 78.5 cents, beating its own guidance of about 7.2 percent, according to the statement.

Foreign currency gains amounted to 298 million rand as the South African currency weakened.

While Growthpoint is benefiting from its exposure to the Australian property market and currency, it’s also expanding the South African portfolio amid a slowing domestic economy.

The company has a development pipeline of 2 billion rand, and raised 2.5 billion rand in a May 2013 share sale.

“Should current economic conditions prevail, growth in distribution per share for fiscal year 2014 is expected to be similar to that achieved at half year 2014,” the company said.

Growthpoint shares were little changed at 23.27 rand as of 11 a.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 45.5 billion rand.

The stock has declined 4.2 percent this year, compared with a 2.6 percent increase in the 165-member FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index. - Bloomberg News