Metro Holdings posts 64.9% rise in full-year profits

SINGAPORE - Higher rents at its properties and a favourable exchange rate led Singapore-based property and retail group Metro Holdings to post a 64.9 per cent rise in net profit to $106.8 million for its financial year ended March 31.

Revenue climbed 3.8 per cent to $194.3 million in the year, the group said on Wednesday.

This was helped by a 13.3 per cent rise in the group's property division to $66.1 million, mainly due to higher rental income and an increased contribution from Metro taking an additional stake in EC Mall in Beijing.

The yuan's 4 per cent appreciation against the Singapore dollar also boosted revenue numbers, Metro said.

Its retail divison saw steady revenue at $128.2 million for the year, despite a competitive retail environment, it added.

"Profitability of the retail division was adversely affected by higher rental and manpower costs but mitigated by improvements in gross margins," the group said.

For the fourth quarter ended March 31, Metro posted a near tripling in net profit to $43.8 million from $14.9 million a year ago, largely because of a $20 million revaluation gain on its investment properties, especially EC Mall Beijing. This was somewhat offset by lower valuations for other properties Metro City Shanghai and Frontier Koishikawa.

Its fourth-quarter revenue rose 4.3 per cent to $49.7 million.

Metro chairman Winston Choo said the group's property division "remains robust" as it continues to expand in China.

"Moving forward, the group will continue to co-invest with experienced local partners to further strengthen Metro's presence in China and the region with a view to broadening our revenue stream and building sustained profitability," he added.

The group's earnings per share was 12.9 cents for the year, up from 7.8 cents the previous year. Group net asset value per share rose to $1.43 as at March 31, rising from $1.38 a year ago.

Metro is proposing dividends of six cents per share, comprising a final dividend of two cents and a special dividend of four cents. This translates into a payout of 46.5 per cent of the group's net profit attributable to shareholders for the year.