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SBS Transit posts 1.5% rise in full-year net profit of S$81.3m

TRANSPORT operator SBS Transit on Thursday posted a full-year net profit of S$81.3 million, up 1.5 per cent from the same period a year earlier.

Revenue in the 12 months ended Dec 31, 2019 was S$1.45 billion, up 4.5 per cent from 2018.

Operating costs rose 4.3 per cent to S$1.34 billion, with the biggest increase coming from an 11.3 per cent jump in repairs and maintenance costs.

Revenue from public transport services rose 4.4 per cent to S$1.38 billion, due mainly to higher bus service fees, increased rail ridership as well as the upward revision in train fares that came into effect on Dec 29, 2018.

Last year, average daily ridership on the Downtown Line (DTL) grew by 6 per cent to 477,000 passenger trips. Average fare for the DTL was 7.5 per cent or five Singapore cents higher than in 2018.

Average daily ridership on the North-East Line (NEL) grew by 1.6 per cent to 601,000 passenger trips. Average fare for the NEL was 2.4 per cent or 1.7 Singapore cents higher than in 2018.

Meanwhile, average daily ridership on the Light Rail Transit (LRT) grew by 6.7 per cent to 140,000 passenger trips. Average fare for the LRT was 5.1 per cent or 2.2 Singapore cents higher than in 2018.

Revenue from other commercial services rose 6.3 per cent to S$62 million for 2019, due mainly to higher advertising revenue.

Full-year earnings per share was 26.07 Singapore cents, up from 25.72 cents in 2018.

A final dividend of 5.90 Singapore cents has been proposed, down from 7.10 cents in the same period a year earlier. The dividend will be payable on May 12. Together with the interim dividend of 7.15 cents paid in August, total dividend for 2019 was 13.05 cents, up from 12.90 cents in 2018.

Net asset value per share was S$1.69 as at Dec 31, 2019, up from S$1.60 as at Dec 31, 2018.

SBS Transit, which is controlled by ComfortDelGro, said in its results filing that the novel coronavirus outbreak and measures to contain it will result in lower ridership.

"The 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019 quickly spread internationally despite efforts to contain it. How the outbreak will turn out is currently unclear and a prolonged outbreak is anticipated.

"In response to the evolving situation, the group has increased the frequency of the cleaning of its premises, buses and trains."

The group added: "Notwithstanding the 7 per cent fare adjustment which took effect from Dec 29, 2019, the group, in particular the rail business, will continue to face rising cost from operations and maintenance."

Repairs and maintenance costs are expected to increase as it continues with mid-life refurbishments to the NEL and Sengkang-Punggol LRT fleets, ageing bus and train fleets as well as continued investments in predictive maintenance capabilities to enhance service reliability.

Staff costs are also expected to rise following salary adjustments and increments to retain and attract staff, the group said.

SBS Transit shares rose five Singapore cents or 1.36 per cent to S$3.74 on Thursday before the results were announced.