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Straco Corp posts 12.4% fall in FY2018 earnings on Singapore Flyer suspension

TOURISM attractions operator Straco Corp saw full-year earnings drop 12.4 per cent to S$41.8 million, hit by the two-month ride suspension of the Singapore Flyer early last year due to a technical fault.

Revenue fell 8.2 per cent to S$117.9 million for the year ended Dec 31, due to lower contributions from the Singapore Flyer and the two aquariums in China.

In the fourth quarter, the overall number of visitors to all attractions dipped 3.8 per cent year-on-year to 946,000. Revenue for the quarter fell 9.2 per cent year-on-year to S$22.3 million, while earnings were flat at S$6 million.

"While Underwater World Xiamen 2 registered marginal growth in revenue and net profit, our Shanghai Ocean Aquarium was affected by unfavourable weather this year and tightened traffic control in October and November during the Import Expo held in Shanghai," said Straco's executive chairman Wu Hsioh Kwang in a media statement.

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Nevertheless, the company will pay out a special dividend of one Singapore cent per share atop a first and final dividend of 2.5 cents per share to "reward our shareholders", Mr Wu said, citing the company's "strong" net cash balance of S$163.8 million. In 2017, Straco paid a first and final dividend of 2.5 cents per share.

Straco expects the outlook for China domestic tourism to remain positive. "It was recently reported that tourism in China is upgrading into a quality-oriented development, integrating culture into tourism so that more visitors can experience the essence of local culture, and not just for scenic spots," the company said in a commentary accompanying its results.

Straco closed flat at S$0.76 on Thursday.