Singapore

Wheelock net up 23.7pc on disposals

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2006, 12:00am

Developer posts $10.3b profit as asset sales offset drop in property revenue


Wheelock and Co said its earnings jumped 23.7 per cent as disposal of investments helped offset falling property sales.


The Hong Kong-based property developer, headed by businessman Peter Woo Kwong-ching, posted a net profit of $10.32 billion, or $5.08 per share, for the year to March, up from $8.34 billion, or $4.10 per share, in the same period a year earlier.


Its profits included an accounting gain of $3.43 billion from the increased value of its investment properties and a write-back of $192.6 million from the provision it previously set aside for the Ardmore View project in Singapore.


Without those gains, Wheelock's underlying net profit would have increased 28.2 per cent to $3.2 billion, beating market estimates of $2.46 billion in a poll of five brokers by Thomson Financial, thanks largely to its disposal of equity investments and other investment properties.


Wheelock, whose businesses span from ports to telecommunications, said property sales slumped 31.1 per cent in the past financial year to $2.69 billion.


'The decrease was mainly attributable to fewer Grange Residences units sold in Singapore, whereas property sales recorded in Hong Kong were not significantly different from the 2004-05 financial year,' the company said in a statement.


The developer sold only 11 remaining flats at its Grange Residences project for the 2005-06 financial year, compared with 92 sold in the previous year.


As a result, Wheelock's turnover fell 6 per cent year on year to $4.24 billion. The final dividend will be raised to 10 cents per share from 8.5 cents per share.


To strengthen earnings, Wheelock disposed of some long-term investments and booked a profit of $648.8 million, up 151 per cent from a year earlier. The market value of its portfolio of available-for-sale investments, primarily comprising blue-chip securities, stood at $2.19 billion at the end of March, against $1.49 billion in the same period last year.


Net debt of the company has dropped to $2.69 billion from $4.52 billion, with a net gearing ratio of 6.6 per cent.


The developer had been studying a plan to float a real estate investment trust comprising office, retail and industrial properties to raise as much as $5 billion in the second half of this year, sources had said.


Shares of Wheelock closed down 0.8 per cent at $12.4 yesterday. The stock has lost 1.19 per cent this year.