Brokerages forecast glowing net profits for blue chip companies

ANALYSTS are expecting a bumper set of net profit figures from Hongkong blue-chip companies in the coming reporting season, but the outlook for 1993 is less certain.

In a survey of four major brokerages' forecasts for 1992 final results due later this month and next, Business Post found the average earnings growth forecast for Hang Seng Index constituents was 24.5 per cent, while in 1993 the figure is expected to fall to 17.75 per cent.

In the approaching reporting season, attention is expected to focus on Hutchison Whampoa.

At the interim stage last year, a $1.42 billion provision was made for declining asset values at Husky Oil in Canada.

This time around concern will focus on the conglomerate's loss-making UK telecommunications operations.

Hopewell Holdings is expected to attract attention, as the company's interim results for the six months to December 31 are expected to show continued poor-quality earnings on further asset disposals.

Earnings from the group's Guangdong-Shenzhen Superhighway are not expected to feed through until 1994.

Cathay Pacific's anticipated poor results in the wake of the recent strike and its continued rising cost base have caused a divergence in opinion among analysts towards parent company Swire Pacific.

Broker forecasts for the company in 1992 vary between $3.67 billion and $4 billion.

In 1993, the divergence in forecasts grows, with some brokers looking for flat earnings and others looking for a net profit figure of more than $5 billion as investment property earnings continue to flow in.

HSBC Holdings' headline net profit figure is expected to grow an impressive 58 per cent, to $13.5 billion for 1992.

But the issue of some 780 million shares to Midland Bank shareholders in the takeover last summer of the UK clearer has diluted earnings per share growth to 30 per cent for 1992.

Earnings per share growth is expected to be less than 10 per cent in 1993, compared with profits growth for the period of 22 per cent.

A recovery in earnings growth in 1994 is largely dependent on a boost coming from Midland over the period.

Brokers are split on this, as a growing number do not expect Midland to perform well in Britain's poor economic environment.

On a brighter note, analysts are optimistic about CITIC Pacific's future.

Sentiment towards the group improved on January 8 after analysts saw the generous terms on which the company agreed to acquire a stake in Hongkong Telecom from its parent, along with two power stations and infrastructure interests.

''The deal actually enhances earnings per share and boosts the profit outlook for the company in the near term,'' an analyst at Barclays de Zoete Wedd said.

Until the deal was announced, net profit growth of only 12 per cent was forecast in 1993, compared with 67 per cent growth expected in the wake of the transaction.

Solid double-digit growth in net profits and earnings per share is anticipated from stalwarts such as Hang Seng Bank, Bank of East Asia, China Light and Power, and Hongkong and China Gas.

Strong growth is also expected from property developers, many of which have already booked their earnings for 1993.

Poor sentiment towards the sector amid the current territory-wide political uncertainty has led price-earnings multiples and yields to look attractive as share prices have become depressed.