Forecasters still positive on earnings
STOCK analysts in Hongkong continue to be bullish about the prospects for earnings at most local companies, according to the July issue of The Estimate Directory.
It showed that in June more analysts upgraded their 1993 net profit forecasts for Hongkong companies than those who downgraded their forecasts for the period.
Upgrades outnumbered downgrades by 129 to 91. The total number of adjustments was down 11.3 per cent.
Companies under the upgrade spotlight were mainly in the property sector.
Hutchison Whampoa benefited from positive sentiment towards its earnings outlook, while a new round of downgrades of net profit in 1993 for Cathay Pacific, adding to those made during poor sentiment in the spring, depressed the earnings outlook for parent company Swire Pacific.
June was the fourth consecutive month in which there were more upgrades than downgrades. However, the margin closed. There were 40 per cent more upgrades last month than downgrades, while in May there were 80 per cent more upgrades than downgrades.
One analyst said the bullishness reflected in the figures indicated the optimism there was after the close of the reporting period for last year, in which many major blue chips came in with results ahead of expectations.
''The current pessimism towards the brakes being put on in China's economy has yet to feed through to the analysts' forecasts, as any downturn in the mainland will have a consequential impact on Hongkong earnings,'' he said.
For Cathay Pacific, all nine brokerages reporting net profit forecast adjustments cut their expectations.
Net profit forecasts were cut by between $100 million and $700 million. The $700 million figure came from Asia Equity, with a downgrade from $3.1 billion to $2.4 billion.
After the downgrades, the range of expectations of the airline's earnings this year remained wide, from $2.4 billion to $3.1 billion, forecast by SG Warburg Securities and Wardley James Capel, respectively.
Of the brokers adjusting their forecasts for Swire Pacific, only two out of 10 raised their figures.
The range of decreases in net profit ranged from $100 million to $500 million. The degree of change to the original forecast was less than that surveyed in the figures linked to Cathay Pacific as the parent company's earnings were buffered by increasing property rental income.
At the bottom of the range of forecasts, after the downgrades, was Asia Equity with $4.7 billion and at the top was Standard Chartered Securities with $5 billion.
Kim Eng Securities and Schroders Securities increased their net profit forecasts to $5.25 billion and $4.9 billion, respectively.
Hutchison Whampoa was the only major non-property Hang Seng Index constituent to see major upgrades.
All eight brokers reporting adjustments increased their forecasts. The increases ranged between $100 million and $1 billion.
The $1 billion change was made by Schroders Securities, which increased its forecast for net profit in 1993 to $5.46 billion.
National Mutual Asia also saw all seven brokers who reported adjustments increase their forecasts, across a range taking net profit from $433 million to $458 million.
The property companies under the upgrade spotlight included Hysan Development, Great Eagle Holdings, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Hang Lung Development.
Sun Hung Kai Properties' net profit for this year is expected to range between $6.6 billion and $7 billion, according to the brokers reporting adjustments to their figures.