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Singapore's top firms enjoyed record profits, but revenues flat: study

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SINGAPORE'S top companies enjoyed their most profitable year yet, with double-digit increases that took their combined profits to a record high.

The 1,000 largest companies saw a 10.5 per cent jump in annual profits for years ended May 31, from S$165.4 billion in the period ended 2016 to S$182.8 billion in the period ended 2017, according to a study by Experian outfit DP Information Group (DP Info) and co-produced by EY.

The Singapore 1000 (S1000) ranks the largest 1,000 firms in Singapore by revenue, published together with the SME 1000 - a ranking of the top 1,000 SMEs.

Finance companies were the most profitable, with each company recording an average profit of S$811.5 million in the latest period. This was followed by property with an average profit-per-company of S$428.6 million.

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The electricity,water and gas sector saw the largest increase in average profit per company, jumping 30.2 per cent to an average of S$198.8 million per company in the latest year. The commerce and wholesale sector came in a close second place, with an increase of 29.4 per cent improvement to S$106.4 million.

For the S1000 companies, turnover only ticked up slightly by 1.1 per cent to S$2.79 trillion in the period ended 2017. That suggests that the increase in profits was the result of improved margins, rather than increased sales volumes.

While Singapore's largest firms had a record-breaking year, SME 1000 firms saw their turnover and profits fall.

Combined turnover for the smaller companies fell 11.8 per cent from S$30.2 billion in the 2016-2017 period to S$26.7 billion the next year, while profits declined from a combined S$3.5 billion to S$2.9 billion - a drop of 17.1 per cent.

The transport and storage sector saw the biggest plunge in combined profits, with a 53.8 per cent dive. It was followed by SMEs in the finance sector, with a decline of 30.1 per cent.

The authors of the study also published the Singapore International 100 ranking for the top 100 firms based on overseas revenue and the Singapore International Top 50 SMEs ranking.

For the latest period, the total overseas revenue of the top 100 internationalised firms in Singapore fell 11 per cent to S$165.4 billion.

China continued to be the largest source market for Singapore's largest corporations doing business overseas, accounting for 42.9 per cent of offshore revenue.

The total overseas revenue of the top 50 internationalised SMEs increased by 3.3 per cent to S$1.6 billion.

Southeast Asia was the most important market for the 50 SMEs ranked.

"We expect Southeast Asia to grow in prominence for SMEs as Singapore uses its position as Asean chair to strengthen economic ties and to boost regional business opportunities," said James Gothard, general manager, Credit Services & Strategy SEA, Experian.

A gala dinner to award winners will take place on Friday evening at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.

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