Wheelock profit rises 11.4pc despite Singapore setback

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 June, 2006, 12:00am

Wheelock Properties, a unit of conglomerate Wheelock and Company, said earnings rose 11.46 per cent in the year to March, as sales of investment properties and the partial reversal of a previous write-off balanced plunging property sales.

The firm said its underlying net profit, which excluded any non-cash revaluation gain under the new accounting standard, stood at $1.02 billion, up from $912.4 million in the previous year.

Including a net investment surplus of $1.07 billion on its investment properties and a write-back of $144.2 million for a Singapore property project, Wheelock Properties' net profit jumped 21.3 per cent year-on-year to $2.23 billion or $1.08 per share.

However, sales slumped 18.3 per cent year on year to $1.79 billion, due mostly to sluggish sales at its Wheelock Properties (Singapore) unit.

Operating profit from Singapore property sales dived 73.5 per cent year on year to $93.6 million.

The company said the decline reflected the fact that the unit sold only the 11 remaining flats at its Grange Residences project, compared with 92 sold in the previous financial year.

To bolster earnings, Wheelock Properties sold long-term investments worth $168.3 million and investment properties valued at $98.2 million during the year.

The market value of its long-term investment portfolio stood at $7.08 billion, consisting mostly of a 7 per cent stake in Wharf (Holdings) and other blue chip securities, it said.

The disposals helped lift total operating profit 4.3 per cent to $873.2 million.

The firm will pay a final dividend of seven cents per share, up from six cents the previous year.

The company's financial position strengthened in one key respect during the year, as net cash climbed to $589.1 million as of March 31, compared with $396.6 million the previous year.

Shares of Wheelock Properties closed down 1.63 per cent at $6.05 yesterday.

The stock has held up strongly so far this year having risen 16.35 per cent, outperforming the 5.01 per cent gain of the benchmark Hang Seng Index.