Hong Kong property firms remain upbeat on market outlook
The city’s leading developer, Henderson Land Development, posts better-than-expected underlying profit growth last year, rising 29pc to HK$14.2 bn
Hong Kong’s housing market will remain buoyant despite the sky-high prices and continue to attract capital inflow and enjoy strong local demand, say two of the city’s top property developers, after reporting better earnings on Tuesday.
The city’s leading developer, Henderson Land Development, said in its financial results filing that economic policy uncertainties in the US and the UK will encourage more capital into Hong Kong and support the property market growth.
“Persistent liquidity is set to flow into the territory on the back of its position as a comprehensive international financial centre and its relatively stable currency, ” said Henderson company secretary Timon Liu.
The property giant posted a better-than-expected underlying profit growth last year, rising 29 per cent to HK$14.2 billion (US1.83 billion), thanks to a sales rebound in mainland China and disposal of some non-core investment properties.
Revenue from home sales in Hong Kong and the mainland rose 13 per cent to HK$17.7 billion, while rental income from offices and malls dropped 1 per cent to HK$5.6 billion.
It announced a final dividend of HK$1.13 per share, making the total dividend for the fiscal year 2016 to HK$1.55 per share, rising from HK$1.45 in 2015.
Shares in the developer ended up 1.3 per cent to HK$47.5 before the results were revealed on Tuesday evening. The family-owned builder, controlled by 89-year-old Hong Kong billionaire Lee Shau-Kee, has interests spanning hotels, retail and utilities such as Towngas and Hong Kong Ferry.
Its property sales, combining residential units and disposal of industrial and commercial space in 2016 amounted to HK$14.9 billion, compared with HK$11.5 billion in 2015. Its key sites are the “Double Cove Summit” development in Ma On Shan, and “Wellesley” in Mid-Levels and “Seven Victory Avenue” in Ho Man Tin. Seven Victory Avenue is known for providing super-tiny flats as small as 161 square feet.
The company plans to launch another four residential projects within the year, it said, and has a total of about 2,600 residential units available for sale in 2017.
It also expects HK$7 billion of income generated from disposals to be booked this year.
Low interest rates, smaller units rolled out by developers, as well as strong interest among mainland Chinese property investors have propelled the property market despite a raft of cooling measures, which includes an expansion of stamp duties for property transactions for the first time in three years in November.
“Hong Kong’s property market has seen a roller coster year in 2016,” Lui Che-woo, chairman of K Wah International Holdings and a property-to-gambling magnate, said at its annual result briefing on Tuesday.
“Although the government rolled out new cooling measures for the sector, strong demand from home buyers has supported the sector to maintain stable growth.”
The mid-sized homebuilder reported that 2016 full-year underlying profit, excluding fair value changes, jumped 113 per cent to HK$2.8 billion (US$360.53 million), lifted by robust property sales in Hong Kong and the mainland.
The company’s managing director Lui Yiu Wah added now the market mainly sees owner-occupied type homebuyers rather than property investors as the government’s cooling measures have helped to keep some property speculators away.
The developer said it was planning to offer additional housing units in 2017, as it has been buying new land at record prices both in Hong Kong and mainland.
K Wah beat 15 mainland and Hong Kong developers in December by paying HK$5.9 billion for a residential site at the Kai Tak area in eastern Kowloon.
“The overall residential market price, however, seems unaffected and remains on the upward trend commenced in March 2016,” the company said in the filing.
But Morgan Stanley analysts say the latest US interest rate rise is an obvious warning sign to Hong Kong’s property market.
The investment house expects Hong Kong property prices to decline by 5 per cent in 2017, the first year of decline since 2008.