SINGAPORE (Mar 1): Jardine Cycle & Carriage saw its earnings grow 16% to US$811.2 million ($1.1 billion) for the FY17 ended December on the back of improved performance from Astra, compared to earnings of US$701.7 million a year ago.

Total group revenue rose 12% to US$17.7 billion in FY17, from US$15.8 billion a year ago.

Earnings per share (EPS) climbed to US$2.05 in FY17, from US$1.78 a year ago.

Astra reported a net profit equivalent to US$1.4 billion under Indonesian accounting standards, 25% higher in its local currency.

This was led by a return to profitability at Permata Bank, while higher commodity prices benefited the trading performances of the heavy equipment and mining businesses as well as agribusiness.

The group’s Direct Motor Interests contributed a profit of US$125 million in 2017, 25% lower than a year ago. This was due mainly to the increasingly competitive environment in Vietnam.

Its Other Strategic Interests contributed profits of US$34 million in FY17, improving slightly from US$33 million a year ago.

Other Strategic Interests comprises Jardine C&C’s 25.5%-held Siam City Cement in Thailand, as well as its 23.9%-held Refrigeration Electrical Engineering Corporation and 10%-held Vinamilk in Vietnam.

As at end December, cash and cash equivalents stood at US$2.6 billion.

The board is recommending a final dividend of 68 US cents per share for the period.

Together with the interim dividend of 18 US cents per share, this brings total dividend for the year of 86 US cents per share – some 16% higher than total dividend of 74 US cents per share a year ago.

“After a satisfactory overall result in 2017, Astra should continue to benefit in 2018 from improving economic conditions and stable commodity prices, although the competition seen in the car market is expected to intensify. The group’s Direct Motor Interests will continue to face challenges, while its Other Strategic Interests are expected to produce growth,” says Ben Keswick, chairman, Jardine C&C.

The group says it is pursuing expansion in Southeast Asia through supporting the growth of Astra in Indonesia, as well as strengthening its Direct Motor Interests and developing its Other Strategic Interests by investing in market-leading companies that provide exposure to new business sectors in the region.

Share of Jardine C&C closed 21 cents down at $36.96 on Thursday.