Wheelock looks ahead to strong growth

Property and logistics conglomerate unveils 120 per cent increase in its dividend

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 March, 2013, 6:31am

With a strong pipeline of projects, property and logistics conglomerate Wheelock and Company expects to see substantial business growth in the next five years.

Its project pipeline was unveiled as the company announced a 120 per cent increase in dividend after reporting an attributable profit rise of 17.8 per cent to HK$26.93 billion for last year.

A final dividend of 25 HK cents was announced, bringing the full-year dividend to HK$1.10 per share, compared with 50 HK cents a share in 2011.

"Directors of the board are satisfied with the result in 2012. We decided to increase dividends to shareholders," said Stephen Ng Tin-hoi, the deputy chairman of Wheelock & Co.

The dividend payout ratio on the basis of the company's core profit increased to 31 per cent from 11 per cent in 2011, said Ng.

He said the company intended to sustain this new payout ratio level in view of optimistic future growth.

In the five years to 2017, the company has a pre-sales pipeline of 13 projects. This year, Wheelock expects property sales to jump from HK$6.9 billion last year to HK$10 billion, mainly helped by two new unfinished developments - a joint-venture residential project with New World Development atop Austin Station and grade A office building One Bay East in Kowloon East.

Fourteen projects are to be completed during the period, with one completed this year and three each in 2014 and 2015. Five projects will be completed in 2016 and two in 2017.

Wheelock now has 7.1 million square feet of gross land bank in Hong Kong after acquiring five sites in the past 13 months for HK$6.1 billion. It also has a land bank of 4.15 million sqft of gross floor area in Singapore.

During the year under review, profit before investment property revaluation surplus rose 4 per cent to HK$8.7 billion.

Core profit declined 20 per cent to HK$7.27 billion as property earnings slid in Hong Kong and Singapore. Its subsidiary Wharf (Holdings), which posted a record HK$11.04 billion in net profit, accounted for 77 per cent of the group's core profit.

Earnings per share were HK$13.26, up from HK$11.25 a share the previous year.