SINGAPORE (Feb 28): Ho Bee Land reported earnings of $267.6 million for 4QFY2019 ended December, a threefold increase from earnings of $81.4 million in the corresponding quarter last year. 

This lifted the group’s full-year earnings to $332.3 million, some 23.1% higher than earnings of $270 million in FY2018. 

The increase in earnings for the quarter was attributable primarily to a 4.2% increase in rental income to $53.7 million from $51.5 million, although this was partially mitigated by a 35.2% decline in the group’s sale of development properties to $0.6 million.  

Notably, Ho Bee booked a 162% surge in fair value gains on investment properties to $243.7 million on its portfolio of investment properties in both Singapore and the UK. 

Other operating income for the quarter  doubled to $5.2 million from $2.4 million in 4QFY2018 due to dividend income from a quoted equity investment in Australia. 

Ho Bee recorded a lower share of profits from its Shanghai and Zhuhai associates due to lower sales and profit recognition from both projects compared to 4QFY2018. This was partially offset by a higher share of profit from the group’s Seascape project in Sentosa Cove due to higher number of units sold compared to last year. 

Profit from operations for the quarter more than doubled to $279 million from $114.3 million last year. 

As at end-December, the group’s total shareholders’ fund stood at $3.54 billion, translating to a net asset value of $5.32 per share. 

As at Dec 31, cash and cash equivalents stood at $191.4 million. 

Earnings per share for the quarter came in at 40.23 cents, up from 12.24 cents in 4QFY2018. 

The group is recommending a dividend of 10 cents per ordinary share, comprising a first and final dividend of eight cents per share and a special dividend of two cents per share. 

The dividend, subject to shareholders’ approval at the group’s forthcoming annual general meeting, is expected to be paid out on May 29. 

In its outlook statement, Ho Bee noted that the global business outlook remains cautious in light of the Covid-19 outbreak. While the sentiment remains positive, the group says that it is still early days to assess the full economic impact. 

“Our portfolio of investment properties in Singapore and the UK continues to be the bedrock that
contributes to the group’s profitability,” says Ho Bee Land CEO Chua Thian Poh. 

“Despite the weak global economic outlook, and the on-going trade and geopolitical tensions in FY2019, the group’s properties enjoyed positive rental reversions and high occupancy in both Singapore and the UK,” he adds. 

Shares in Ho Bee Land closed four cents lower, or 1.75% down, at $2.25 on Friday prior to the results announcement.