Hong Kong company reporting season

Swire Properties posts 30 per cent jump in first-half underlying profit on higher sales

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 2:22pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 August, 2017, 11:18pm

Swire Properties, one of Hong Kong’s largest property developers, has reported interim earnings that beat analysts’ forecasts, helped by increasing sales and higher margins on luxury real estate sold in the city.

The company’s underlying profit rose 30 per cent to HK$4.6 billion (US$588 million) in the six months ended June, while sales increased 46 per cent from a year earlier to HK$11.5 billion, beating the HK$11.3 billion consensus forecast of analysts polled by Bloomberg. Net profit, including valuation gains, more than doubled to HK$14.8 billion during the period.

Property sales revenue jumped 170 per cent to HK$5.26 billion, due to the handover of pre-sold units at the Alassio development at the Mid Levels.

The luxury property developer believes that demand “remains resilient” in the high-end residential market segment, despite government measures to cool the market and the expectation of a gradual increase in interest rates.

“The demand is strong in Hong Kong and we expect that is going to continue in the second half,” said Guy Bradley, chief executive of Swire Properties.

After selling out all the units of Alassio, Swire’s remaining unsold stock in Hong Kong is the villa project, Whitesands in South Lantau.

Leasing income of offices, including the landmark Pacific Place in Admiralty, edged up to HK$3.04 billion, from HK$3.03 billion a year ago.

Second-quarter figure which shows full occupancy of its Pacific Place offices prompted Swire to raise rents by 15 per cent for leases that expired in the first half.

“In the Central district of Hong Kong, high occupancy and limited supply will continue to exert upward pressure on office rents,” said Chairman John Slosar in the company’s stock exchange filing.

On the retail side, the city’s improved sales momentum in the first half has boosted the leasing performance of Swire’s shopping malls.

“(Tenant) sales have slightly picked up,” Bradley said.

Leasing income from shopping malls grew 6 per cent to HK$2.27 billion.

The company’s first phase of Taikoo Place redevelopment, the construction of a 48-storey grade-A office tower One Taikoo Place with 1 million square feet, is expected to be completed in 2018.

On its expansion plan in mainland China, Bradley said the company was seeking to undertake more retail developements in the country, particularly in Shanghai.

He said they were still “in discussions” with Shanghai’s Lujiazui Group on the terms of the company’s potential second retail project in Shanghai, which will be located in Pudong. The two companies signed a framework agreement two years ago to jointly develop the project.

Its first mall in Shanghai, HKRI Taikoo Hui, opened in May 2017. And the company said tenants had committed to lease 91 per cent of the space and 40 per cent of the shops by the end of June.

The board has recommended an interim dividend of HK$0.25 per share, compared to HK$0.23 in the same period last year.

Swire Properties’ shares fell as much as 1.2 per cent in Hong Kong before the earnings were announced at noon, and closed 1.1 per cent lower to HK$26.75 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Swire Properties’ parent Swire Pacific sees first-half profit surged 140 per cent to HK$12.1 billion, thanks to the one-off gain from the realignment of the Coca-Cola bottling system in mainland China.