Friday, February 26, 2010

CDL generates $1b cash from operating activities in ‘09

City Developments Ltd (CDL), which yesterday posted its second-highest full-year net profit, is getting ready for at least five Singapore residential property launches this year.

Fourth-quarter net earnings jumped 76.7 per cent year on year to $176.7 million on the back of strong contribution from property development. Pre-tax profit from this segment rose 107.2 per cent for the fourth quarter and 14.2 per cent for the full year.

As a result, property development accounted for 70.7 per cent of Q409 group pre-tax profit; for full-year 2009, its contribution came to 65.5 per cent.

For Q409, the group booked profits from Cliveden at Grange, The Arte, One Shenton, Shelford Suites, The Solitaire, Tribeca and Wilkie Studio. Profits were also booked from joint venture projects such as Livia and The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove.

The group also highlighted that profits from the Volari at Balmoral and Hundred Trees condos, which are nearly completely sold, have yet to be booked as these projects are in the early phase of construction. The same goes for The Gale, a joint venture project.

CDL is targeting to launch The Residences at W Singapore Sentosa Cove next month. In April, it hopes to release a 429-unit condo at Chestnut Avenue and a 158-unit condo on the former Concorde Residences site on Thomson Road, followed by a condo in Pasir Ris (next to Livia) in June. In July or August, the group plans to launch a condo with about 150 units on the Copthorne Orchid Hotel site in the Dunearn Road area, owned by its London-listed hotel arm Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C). The projects will be launched in phases.

CDL executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng highlighted that two overseas hotels in M&C’s portfolio – Millennium Seoul Hilton and The Tara in Kensington, London – could also be redeveloped into condos at the right time.

CDL’s current landbank can potentially yield about 7.1 million square foot of gross floor area.

For the year ended Dec 31, 2009, group net profit edged up 2.1 per cent to $593.4 million, the second best showing since the group’s inception in 1963. Its best bottom line, of about $725 million, was achieved for FY2007. CDL’s latest full-year turnover of $3.27 billion (an 11.1 per cent increase from the preceding year) was its highest ever.

The group sold a total of 1,508 residential units with sales revenue of $1.87 billion (including joint venture share) last year – a marked jump from the 368 units sold for a total $348 million in 2008.

CDL generated about $1 billion cash from operating activities before tax last year (2008: $516.6 million) – a feat accomplished without resorting to any equity fund raising.

The group’s board is recommending a final ordinary dividend of eight cents per share, up from 7.5 cents per share for 2008.

The group is conserving some of its cash for acquisition possibilities, especially in the West, where attractively priced deals are available.

Looking ahead, CDL expects cashflow this year to be healthy as it has pre-sold residential developments and with quite a number of its projects likely to be completed this year – including The Solitaire (which has already received Temporary Occupation Permit), Tribeca, The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove, Wilkie Studio and The Arte.

CDL’s gearing ratio, without taking into account fair value gains on investment properties as is the group’s accounting practice, dipped from 48 per cent at end-2008 to 40 per cent at end-2009.

It it had taken into account such gains, its gearing ratio would have fallen from 32 per cent to 27 per cent over the same period. The group managed to trim net borrowings by 10 per cent last year to $3.05 billion and achieved lower average interest rate on borrowings of 2.2-2.5 per cent, compared with 2.6-3.7 per cent for 2008.

Its interest cover ratio also increased from 11 times for FY2008 to 14.5 times for FY2009.

Net asset value per share rose from $5.97 at end-2008 to $6.57 at end-2009.

During yesterday’s results briefing, Mr Kwek also questioned accounting conventions these days that allow companies to book upward revaluations on investment properties as profits as well as to recognise profit on exceptional items such as one-off divestments.

Core earnings, which are a business’ recurring income, should be focused on instead, he argues.

‘Why do you want to add in ‘exceptional profit’, or what we used to term as ‘extraordinary profit’ to your normal profit and say: ‘My goodness, I got very good profit; I should ask my board to give me a big bonus!’?’

Source: Business Times, 26 Feb 2010

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