Henderson Land profit soars 62pc
By PEGGY SITO
HENDERSON Land Development surprised the market yesterday with a 62 per cent December interim profit rise despite a dramatic fall in prices for new flats in the second half of 1994.
Net earnings were almost $3.8 billion against about $2.35 billion on a turnover of $6.5 billion, a 76.4 per cent rise from the same period in 1993.
Subsidiary Henderson Investment posted a 42 per cent growth to $625.37 million in its interim profits while turnover rose 125 per cent to $808.89 million from $359.28 million.
The unexpected earnings growth yesterday boosted Henderson Land's shares by 3.16 per cent, or $1.40, to $45.70 on turnover of $166.74 million.
However, shares in Henderson Investment fell five cents to $5.55.
'It is out of my predictions, also well beyond the market's expectations,' said Sassoon Securities' property analyst Roger Luk, adding that the overall earnings forecast for Henderson Land's interim earnings growth was about 15 per cent.
Mr Luk said the growth might be partly due to the sales response of the fourth phase in Sunshine City, which was better than his predictions.
However, some property analysts said the results were enhanced by the developer's completion schedule.
'Development earnings from the company's large residential projects, such as Sunshine City in Ma On Shan, Finery Park in Tseung Kwan O and Fu Wing Mansion in Fanling, had been booked in the first half. That boosted the interim earnings,' a Hong Kong property analyst said.
'However, I do not expect the high growth rate can be sustained in the second half because development earnings from its big developments were almost reflected in the interim results,' she said.
The analyst said pre-tax development earnings for Henderson Land in the first half were about $3.2 billion but it was difficult to predict the earnings accurately.
'As a big property developer, it has flexibility to change the schedule that analysts always fail to monitor closely,' she said.
However, analysts said Henderson Land could still achieve a steady growth in earnings in the 1995 financial year because a significant portion of development profits for the period had been concluded.
According to Henderson Land, the development projects completed in the first half of the financial year included Sunshine City, Finery Park, Fu Wing Mansion and Citimall.
There were two commercial properties in Kowloon - Hang Bong Commercial Centre and Keybond Commercial Building - and an office block, East Asia Aetna Tower, in Central completed in the first six months of the financial year.
The results for Henderson Land represented an earnings-per-share rise of 62 per cent rise to $2.38 from $1.47. The interim dividend was 50 cents.
Henderson Investment posted earnings per share up 27 per cent to 24.4 cents from 19.2 cents. Interim dividend per share was 11 cents from nine cents.
Henderson Land said the Government's measures to cool the housing market since the second half of last year had brought about a slowdown in the residential property prices of new apartments by 20 to 30 per cent.
However, the impact on Henderson Land was minimal because sales had earlier been concluded for a large number of units in projects which had been put up for pre-sale, the company said in the announcement released yesterday.
'Further, due to the generally low acquisition cost of the group's development land bank, a good profit margin in the property development business of the company was maintained.' More earnings were generated by its gross rental income of $409.64 million from investment properties, which showed a satisfactory increase of 63 per cent compared with the figures over the same period in 1993.
The group's associated companies, Hong Kong and China Gas and Hong Kong Ferry (Holdings), also reported steady growth in earnings of 20 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.