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ComfortDelGro books H1 loss of S$6m, no interim dividend declared

WEAK ridership during the pandemic dragged transport operator ComfortDelGro into the red for the half-year ended June 30, 2020. The group chalked up a net loss of S$6 million against a net profit of S$146.3 million a year ago.

Loss per share was 0.28 Singapore cent, compared with an earnings per share of 6.76 cents a year ago. For the first time, the board has decided not to declare an interim half-year dividend. An interim dividend of 4.5 Singapore cent was declared a year ago.

ComfortDelGro's revenue was 20.8 per cent lower at S$1.5 billion as its underlying businesses suffered and the group faced unfavourable foreign currency translation of S$12.2 million from the weaker Australian dollar.

The group's public transport services business took a punch, with revenue from the segment slumping 12.9 per cent to S$1.2 billion after the "circuit breaker" measure in Singapore caused a plunge in rail ridership.

During the period, rental reliefs or waivers were extended for taxi drivers, the automotive engineering services business had a smaller taxi fleet, and the operations of other business segments were either fully or partially closed.

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The group also faced additional challenges relating to supply chain and labour supply as countries restricted cross-border movements. Costs were incurred from additional cleaning and disinfecting measures, as well as equipment to protect frontline staff and passengers.

Operating costs amounted to S$1.5 billion for the period, 10.8 per cent lower than a year ago. This was mainly due to lower staff costs as governments in Singapore, the UK, Australia and China handed out reliefs for businesses. Staff costs were 12.2 per cent lower at S$749 million.

Without government reliefs that totalled S$82.3 million, ComfortDelGro would have booked an operating loss of S$75.7 million. It instead recorded an operating profit of S$6.6 million, down 97 per cent from a year ago.

The group recorded favourable foreign currency translation of S$11.4 million from the weaker Australian dollar.

The fall in operating costs across the board was offset by a provision for impairment on vehicles and goodwill of S$30.8 million. Impairment reviews are typically performed at year-end, but in light of the current circumstances, the management has reviewed the carrying value of assets and goodwill for any impairment as at June 30, 2020.

Chairman Lim Jit Poh called the first six months of 2020 "nothing short of catastrophic".

"Amid this environment of change, we are reviewing our business models and accelerating our digitalisation programmes. These are exceptional times, and we will need to make exceptional decisions," he said.

The counter closed at S$1.39 on Friday, down S$0.02 or 1.42 per cent.

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