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Mandarin Oriental full-year underlying net profit falls 37% to US$41.2m

DUAL-LISTED hotelier Mandarin Oriental's underlying net profit - which excludes non-trading items - tumbled 37 per cent to US$41.2 million for fiscal 2019, down from US$64.9 million a year ago, according to its results released on Thursday night. 

This came as the combined revenue of hotels under its management slipped 5 per cent to US$1.33 billion from US$1.4 billion before. 

Overall, the group posted a net loss of US$55.5 million for the full year ended Dec 31, against a net profit of US$43.4 million in the previous year. 

Loss per share came in at 4.39 US cents against earnings per share of 3.44 US cents a year ago.

Earnings took a hit primarily due to the closure of The Excelsior in Hong Kong, while results were also impacted by the social unrest in the territory and the major renovation at the Bangkok hotel. These were partially offset by the re-opening of the London hotel following the fire in 2018, and the receipt of related insurance proceeds. 

Mandarin Oriental had said in late-2018 that it would shut The Excelsior for redevelopment as a mixed-use commercial building, a process which could take six years. The Excelsior, which closed on March 31, has since been reclassified as an investment property.

A final dividend of 1.5 US cents per share has been proposed for the year, unchanged from a year ago.

Once approved by shareholders at the May 6 annual general meeting (AGM), the dividend will be paid on May 13, after books closure on March 20. In its financial statements, Mandarin Oriental noted that the proposed dividend will not be accounted for until it has been approved at the 2020 AGM, and that it will be accounted for as revenue reserves in the year ending Dec 31, 2020. 

Ben Keswick, chairman of Mandarin Oriental, noted that the group's performance is being "significantly impacted" by the ongoing virus outbreak, particularly in Hong Kong. 

He added: "Results for the remainder of the year will depend on the duration, geographic extent and impact of the coronavirus and the measures taken to control it. The group's results should, however, benefit from the newly renovated London and Bangkok hotels and the group looks forward to the re-opening of the iconic Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid in late summer."

Mandarin Oriental, which is listed in London, has secondary listings in Bermuda and Singapore.

As at 9.14am on Friday, the counter was trading at US$1.72, up US$0.01 or 0.6 per cent.