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Chip Eng Seng Q4 net profit down by half to S$13.4 million

MAINBOARD-LISTED real estate group Chip Eng Seng Corp’s fourth-quarter earnings took a hit from a double-digit drop in contributions from the core property development business, according to results released on Friday.

Net profit was halved to S$13.4 million for the three months to Dec 31, 2019, from S$26.6 million the year before, as revenue fell by 8 per cent to S$283.2 million.

Property development saw lower contributions from Grandeur Park Residences - where sales have not budged since the last quarter - and the earlier completion of High Park Residences.

Meanwhile, marketing and distribution expenses spiked on the construction of showflats for the Park Colonial and Kopar at Newton projects. Given the Covid-19 outbreak in Singapore, Chip Eng Seng said that it “will decide an appropriate time to launch” Kopar at Newton.

Earnings per share fell to 2.04 Singapore cents for the quarter, from 4.25 Singapore cents, while net asset value was 117.35 Singapore cents a share, against 130.56 Singapore cents before.

For the full year, net profit was down by 47.2 per cent to S$33.3 million, from S$63.1 million before, while revenue slipped by 2.3 per cent to S$1.06 billion.

Chip Eng Seng, which has hospitality assets in Singapore, Australia and the Maldives, warned that the hotels “could see substantial decline in its occupancy rates in the next few months” if the Covid-19 epidemic is stubborn.

As for the pre-school and education business, Chip Eng Seng has had to push the opening of a kindergarten and primary school in Hong Kong from December 2019 to H1 2020 on a licensing delay, it disclosed in its outlook statement.

But it is working to open Invictus International School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, by end-June, while Invictus International School Singapore has inked a long-term lease for a new campus.

Chip Eng Seng added that it is working on plans to upgrade and rebrand Excelsior International School, which it bought in December 2019.

The construction order book rose to S$591.2 million as at Dec 31, 2019, from S$349.2 million at end-September, after the purchase of Sembcorp Design and Construction.

The board has recommended a dividend of S$0.04 a share, unchanged from the same period the year before, to be paid by May 21. The books close on May 5.

Chip Eng Seng shed half a Singapore cent, or 0.83 per cent, to S$0.60, before the results.