Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Keppel Land to launch 5,500 homes in Asia

Fourth quarter net profit jumps 56%; group on the prowl for more land

KEPPEL Land, which saw fourth-quarter earnings jump 56 per cent as property markets across Asia recovered, said it plans to launch more than 5,500 homes across the region for sale this year.

‘Keppel Land is moving into 2010 with optimism on the back of its stronger financial position, improving residential sales and office space take-up together with expectations of continued recovery of Asia and a return of capital flows from the West,’ chief executive Kevin Wong said yesterday.

In Singapore, KepLand will sell more units in two upmarket projects – Marina Bay Suites and Reflections at Keppel Bay – to capitalise on the opening of the integrated resorts, which is expected to boost the high end market.

And in China, the group will launch two projects in Shanghai as well as phase one (comprising about 1,700 units) of its 35.4 ha project in the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City.

The developer yesterday reported that net profit for the quarter ended Dec 31, 2009, rose to $106.9 million from $68.5 million a year ago. Revenue rose 52 per cent to $300.5 million from $197.4 million.

‘Residential sales in Singapore and overseas have recovered, encouraged by signs of economic recovery and improved market sentiments,’ Keppel Land said. Revenue rose as the company saw progressive revenue recognition from the newly launched Madison Residences and The Promont in Singapore.

Higher revenue was also recognised for projects in Vietnam, India and China. Riviera Cove in Ho Chi Minh City has also recorded robust sales since its launch in November 2009, KepLand said.

The property group, however, recorded a net fair value loss of $12 million at the pre-tax level for fourth quarter 2009, mainly from completed investment properties owned by its listed office trust K-Reit Asia.

For the full year, Keppel Land’s profit rose 23 per cent to $280.4 million from $227.7 million in 2008. Revenue rose 10 per cent to $923.9 million compared with $842.2 million for 2008 on the back of higher sales.

Earnings per share for the full year rose to 24.2 cents from 22.4 cents in 2008.

Keppel Land is on the lookout for land to purchase. The company last year carried out a rights issue which raised gross proceeds of $708 million. ‘This ensures the group is well-positioned to capitalise on opportunities to acquire attractive assets at competitive prices in Singapore and overseas,’ it said.

The company also said the commercial segment is showing signs of bottoming out.

‘A flight to quality has been observed with Marina Bay Financial Centre (MBFC) and Ocean Financial Centre (OFC) chalking increased pre-commitment occupancy rates,’ Keppel Land said. MBFC saw a take-up of about 213,000 sq ft in 2009. Phase One of MBFC is now 79 per cent pre-committed and the overall occupancy for the entire MBFC stands at 68 per cent.

UBS Investment Research on Jan 22 issued a fresh ‘buy’ call on KepLand and upgraded the stock’s target price to $4.38 from $3.50.

‘On account of the higher office and luxury residential price assumptions, we upgrade our RNAV (revalued net asset value) estimate for Keppel Land by 25 per cent to $4.40 a share,’ said analyst Regina Lim.

Keppel Land shares gained one cent to end at $3.44 yesterday.

Source: Business Times, 26 Jan 2010

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