SINGAPORE (Aug 13): Best World International, the direct selling firm whose shares are currently suspended from trading, reported earnings of $26.7 million for 2Q19, some 193% higher than $9.1 million in 2Q18.

Best World is undergoing an independent review ordered by the Singapore Exchange after short sellers cast doubts on the soundness of its business model in China.

See also: Best World admits owner of China import agent is CEO's brother-in-law

For the 1H19 ended June, earnings came in at $37.0 million, 150.5% higher than $14.8 million in 1H18.

Revenue for the quarter surged 197.1% to $98.3 million from $33.1 million a year ago.

The increase in revenue was mainly due to a 33.5% increase in the group’s direct selling business to $35.9 million and a significant increase in the group’s franchise business, which surged to $61.8 million from just $0.8 million.

With the increase in revenue, cost of sales increased by 159.8% y-o-y to $21.6 million, bringing gross profit for 2Q19 to $76.7 million, more than treble of $24.8 in 2Q18.

Other operating income saw a 87.1% fall to $0.6 million from $4.4 million last year.

Overall expenses were higher for the period, with distribution costs increasing by 104.9% y-o-y to $21.8 million, administrative expenses increasing 126.1% y-o-y to $19.9 million and finance costs increasing by 282.6% y-o-y to $88,000.

As at end June, the group’s cash and cash equivalents stood at $186.2 million.

Best World’s board has recommended an interim dividend of 1.2 cents per share, unchanged from the corresponding period, which will be payable on Aug 28.

On the outlook, the group says that the slow down in global economic growth, trade tensions between China & US, EU & Indonesia and Brexit negotiations have added uncertainties to the global economy, which could result in cautious consumers’ sentiments and may negatively impact its performance.

Best World says a certain portion of the China managements’ time has been diverted to deal with the enquiries.

The stock last traded at $1.36 before trading was suspended.