Last year's bull run boosts Dharmala 51pc

A BULL run in the regional stock markets last year helped push Dharmala Holdings' attributable profits up 51.3 per cent to $143.44 million for the year ended December 31.

The group's first year-end results as a listed company were boosted by an exceptional item of $79.59 million following the disposal of shares in related companies as well as land and properties.

Profit before exceptionals and taxation wally unchanged at $1.53 billion while earnings per share increased 42.3 per cent to 37 cents.

A final dividend of 2.2 cents a share was recommended by the directors.

Dharmala managing director Bernard Pouliot said that the improved results were due principally to a higher than expected contribution from the financial services division.

''Exceptionally high turnover in the stock markets of Hong Kong and the Philippines, where Dharmala has financial services operations, boosted the group's income by some 50 per cent above expectations,'' he said.


The group is involved in commodity trading, specialising in agricultural commodities, agency business and industrial products.

In Hong Kong, the group's subsidiary, DMT International, was affected by reduced profit margins on commodity plastics sold in China.

The slowdown was due to China's tightening of its monetary policy as well as the devaluation of the yuan against the US dollar.

China's fiscal policy also affected another subsidiary, Jacobsen van den Berg, whose pharmaceutical, medical equipment and textile sectors performed slightly below expectations.


''This was mainly due to the postponement of orders from China due to capital restraints caused by the devaluation [of the yuan] against the US dollar,'' Mr Pouliot said.

In Thailand, the group has taken a 60 per cent stake in the Sulee Group which has an established distribution network.


Mr Pouliot said that the group will use the company, renamed Dharmala Sulee, as a base to expand its industrial products and agency business in Thailand.

Some 100 million baht (about HK$30.9 million) will be injected into the company.

Dharmala plans to further strengthen its position as a commodity trader and distributor in the region.


''You can produce the best toothpicks in the world but if you can't get them to the markets to reach the people, it is no use,'' Mr Pouliot said.

China, Indonesia and Vietnam hold the biggest promise for the distribution networking business.

''These markets also lack a sophisticated distribution market,'' Mr Pouliot said.


This year, the group will expand into three new markets - Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

s $84.82 million, a 43.43 per cent increase over the previous year's comparative combined group profit.

Turnover remained virtua