Monday, February 7, 2011

Firms posting Q4 performance in the black

THE results season is off to a strong start, with all 34 SGX-listed companies that have posted their four-quarter earnings as at Feb 2 in the black.

They recorded a combined $2.07 billion in group profits. Close to 60 per cent of the companies - or 20 out of 34 - posted higher profits.

For the 31 companies that had comparable results for the previous corresponding period, combined earnings for the three months ended Dec 31, 2010 more than doubled over the year to $2 billion.

Keppel Corporation, one of the larger companies to report its financial results so far, beat expectations on the back of strong performances by its offshore & marine and property arms.

Real estate investment trusts (Reits) and property groups also benefited from the upswing in the property cycle. Reits collected higher rents, while a handful of property companies saw their bottom lines boosted by revaluation gains.

Analysts said that while listed companies here are expected to turn in better financial results on the back of the stronger economy, there are some areas for concerns.

Some companies that had reported their results so far said that they have been hit by forex losses, as the Singapore dollar has appreciated against the currencies of the market that they operate in.The Singapore dollar has appreciated significantly against the euro and the yuan over the last year, for example.

A recent survey by the Singapore Business Federation also indicated that business costs will again be a top concern for companies this year.

Picking up on this, Citigroup economists said in a Jan 31 report that there is a case for introducing measures in the upcoming Feb 18 Budget to help businesses soften the impact of rising business costs, enhance productivity, and attract investments.

'Help in defraying costs on the tax front is all the more critical to offset potential loss of cost competitiveness from other fronts, which in some cases are a direct result of policy measures,' said the report.

One example of a policy measure that has resulted in higher costs is the hikes in foreign worker levies.

More companies will announce their financial results in the coming weeks - including Singapore's three listed banks, telecommunications groups, and many of the remaining property groups.

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