SINGAPORE (Nov 14): Professional services provider ZICO Holdings saw its earnings fall 5.7% to RM 877,000 ($289,000) for the 3Q18 ended September, from RM 930,000 a year ago, on the back of higher expenses.

3Q18 revenue grew 15.6% to RM 22.6 million, from RM 19.5 million a year ago.

The increase was due to higher revenue from its advisory and transactional services (ATS) segment, which rose 24.1% to RM 17.0 million during the quarter.

This was due to additional revenue contributions from advisory service on corporate finance under ZICO Capital and trust business under ZICO Allshores Trust in Singapore. The group also saw additional revenue contributions from the acquisition of legal business ZICOlaw Thailand.

Employee benefits expenses climbed 24.5% to RM 12.9 million in 3Q18, from RM 10.4 million a year ago.

ZICO says this is due to the expansion and augmentation of its management team and business since its listing on the SGX Catalist board, in preparation for future growth.

Employee benefits expense increased by RM 2.5 million, mainly due to the increase in headcount in ATS as a result of business acquisition and expansions.

Amortisation and depreciation expenses grew 37.6% to RM 1.4 million, mainly due to higher amortisation charge on the installation of additional computer software.

As at end September, cash and cash equivalents stood at RM 9.3 million.

“We are seeing strong top-line growth in the year to date thanks to a good performance from both new and existing businesses under our ATS segment. We will continue to build up our ATS business and expect it to remain our core revenue contributor as we grow our presence in the Asean region,” says Chew Seng Kok, managing director of ZICO.

Shares in ZICO last closed at 13.5 cents on Nov 12 – nearly half of its 52-week-high of 26 cents recorded in November last year.