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Raffles Medical says increase in FY17 dividend payout signals group's confidence

MARGINAL growth in its revenue from hospital services and investment holdings boosted results for Raffles Medical Group for its full year ended Dec 31, 2017.

Net profit edged up 0.8 per cent to S$70.8 million from the previous year, the group said in a Singapore Exchange filing on Monday morning.

In 2017, revenue crept up 0.8 per cent to S$477.6 million from the preceding year.

The rise in revenue was due to higher hospital services revenue from the increase in local patient load, as well as higher investment holdings revenue contributed by higher income from the fully leased space at Raffles Holland V.

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Earnings per share dipped to 4.02 Singapore cents from 4.04 Singapore cents in the previous year. Net asset value per share crept up to 41.45 Singapore cents as at Dec 31, 2017, from 38.12 Singapore cents a year ago.

At a briefing, management gave an update on its upcoming hospitals in China, saying that its new hospital in Chongqing will open its doors in the fourth quarter this year. Meanwhile, Raffles Hospital Shanghai will open in the second half of 2019.

In Singapore, its new 20-storey Specialist Centre opened on Jan 22. The private healthcare group plans to use about half the building for expansion and rent out the other half.

While the launch of the hospital in Chongqing will incur startup costs of about S$8-10 million in the first year, executive chairman Loo Choon Yong highlighted that the group is investing for the future.

"We are investing for the longer-term. We are reinvesting some of the profit to grow future income," he told reporters.

The directors recommended a final dividend of 1.75 Singapore cents; including interim dividend of 0.5 Singapore cent per share paid in August 2017, the total dividend for the financial year is 2.25 Singapore cents per share. This is up from two Singapore cents in the year-ago period.

Dr Loo said that the increase in dividend payout in fiscal 2017 signalled the group's confidence that it can maintain this level of dividends for shareholders.

"If we do well, we want to also have higher payout," he added.