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Aspen sinks into RM13.8 million net loss for first half

MALAYSIAN developer Aspen (group) Holdings reported a RM13.8 million (S$4.5 million) net loss for the six months ended June, reversing from a net profit of RM9.2 million a year ago. The property group cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the key reason for its “underwhelming” results as restrictions negatively impacted its operations, construction progress and sales efforts.

Loss per share stood at 1.4 sen for the six months, down from the year-ago earnings per share of 0.95 sen.

H1 revenue fell 38 per cent to RM108.2 million, which was derived from the progressive construction of its ongoing project, Vertu Resort - totalling RM83 million - and new sales. The company also added that the construction of its ongoing project, Beacon Executive Suites, had contributed RM13 million in revenue for the first half of the year.

The group also recorded an 32 per cent increase in administrative expenses, which it said is partially due to the opening of its ramen restaurant in Singapore in December last year.

However, in tandem with the lower revenue, cost of sales as well as selling and distribution expenses also fell, helping to cushion the impact on the bottom line.

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The firm’s “other expenses” however, widened to RM2.1 million from RM85,000 a year prior, which the company attributed to realised and unrealised loss on foreign exchange translation from foreign currency borrowing.

It's finance costs also increased to RM5 million, from RM3.4 million, on the back of “higher interest payable due to additional redeemable preference share”. This was issued during the financial year ended Dec 31, 2019 and was not qualified to be capitalised.

In a statement on Sunday, the company said its ongoing projects - Vertu Resort, Beacon Executive Suites and Vivo Executive Apartment - had experienced downtime due to the Movement Control Order in Malaysia. “However, all efforts will be put in to accelerate the construction progress to make up for the lost time and to mitigate any risk of late delivery.”

It is also in the midst of registering its residential properties to qualify for a reduction in ceiling price for the purchase of properties in Penang by foreigners, following a stimulus package by the Malaysian government.

“The group sees this as an opportunity to further promote its projects to the foreign market as foreign buyers will now have a lower entry point to invest in the Penang property market,” it said. “Although there is restriction on international travel, demand from the Hong Kong market did not subside.”

Additionally, the group said it has also adapted its sales and marketing activities to be fully online using various digital platforms and social media such as Facebook and Instagram to drive sales of on-going projects and inventory units. 

“Now, potential purchasers are able to view virtual show units and complete their purchases online. There is a significant rise of successful purchases via the online platform during this period,” it added.

Shares of Aspen closed flat at S$0.085 on Friday, ahead of the results.

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