Guoco placement raises fears of cash-call frenzy

GUOCO Group has raised $768 million in a placement of 40 million shares, representing 10 per cent of the company's enlarged share capital.

The cash raising is the second major tap of the market this week as Champion Technology raised $467 million in a placement on Monday - adding to fears that progress in market earnings growth could be dampened significantly by a cash-call frenzy.

Guoco issued its shares at $19.20, representing a four per cent discount to the bank's closing price yesterday.

For the year so far the average price of the stock, according to Bloomberg data, is $18.128. The placement issue price is five per cent above the calculated average.

The high of the year is $20.60, hit five trading days ago.

The controlling shareholder, interests associated with the Quek family, saw its stake in the group diluted to 27 per cent from 30 per cent.

At the issue price, the shares ranked on a 1993 prospective price-earnings ratio of 13.4, and 12.7 times prospective earnings in 1994.

According to The Estimate Directory, analysts are expecting Guoco to report a 37 per cent rise in net profit to $510 million with earnings per share up 15 per cent to $1.49 and a dividend at 55 cents, up 10 per cent.

In the 12 months ending June 30, 1994, analysts are expecting net profit to rise by 27 per cent to $646.5 million, with earnings per share up 23 per cent at $1.84 and the dividend at 65 cents, up 18 per cent.

The group owns Dao Heng Bank, which it merged with Hang Lung Bank in 1990, creating the fourth largest bank network in the territory.