Third-quarter profit at SGX inches up 1%

SGX was still able to enjoy slim earnings growth across all key segments in the third quarter, with equities and fixed income revenue up 4 per cent to $102 million.
SGX was still able to enjoy slim earnings growth across all key segments in the third quarter, with equities and fixed income revenue up 4 per cent to $102 million.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Bourse operator expects volatile conditions to prevail in coming months

Volatile market conditions and competition among regional bourses will remain in the outlook for Singapore Exchange (SGX) following a muted third-quarter performance.

SGX chief executive Loh Boon Chye painted the mixed picture yesterday when announcing the bourse's numbers for the quarter.

Net profit for the three months to March 31 rose a marginal 1 per cent year on year to $89.2 million on the back of a 3 per cent lift in revenue to $205.8 million in the period.

Mr Loh described the results as "resilient", coming against a challenging environment that looks likely to persist in the coming months.

"The expectation is for competition to increase and global market conditions to remain volatile. We remain very focused on executing our priorities - diversifying our business mix, growing our index and market data business, and maintaining cost discipline," he said at a results briefing.

  • AT A GLANCE

  • REVENUE: $205.8 million (+3%) 

  • NET PROFIT: $89.2 million (+1%) 

  • INTERIM DIVIDEND: 5 cents a share (+25%)

SGX was still able to enjoy slim earnings growth across all key segments, with equities and fixed income revenue rising 4 per cent to $102 million. This was helped by a 4 per cent rise in securities trading and clearing turnover to $54.8 million, which was 27 per cent of total revenue. Market activities were strong enough to push up the securities daily average traded value by 5 per cent to $1.22 billion.

Derivatives turnover added 3 per cent to $82.2 million - 40 per cent of group revenue - due to high volumes in the SGX FTSE China A50 Index futures, Japan Nikkei 225 and iron ore contracts.

As a result, earnings per share was 8.3 cents, just 1 per cent higher compared with a year ago, while net asset was 85.8 cents a share, down from 91.2 cents at June 30. The board declared a five-cent interim dividend - up from four cents last year - payable on May 6.

During the quarter, SGX continued to work on initiatives to grow its product mix and overseas reach, announcing in February a bid to acquire the Baltic Exchange.

Talks are ongoing, Mr Loh said, adding: "The Baltic Exchange is the leading global provider of many maritime indices, which is a natural fit for our commodities business."

Last month, SGX announced a plan to launch contracts for the MSCI China Free Index. This will take place in May, and provide more products to manage the exposure to China's growth industries.

Meanwhile, SGX is still eyeing firms in sectors such as oil and gas, real estate investment trusts and healthcare to bring in new listings.

As the management tries to piece together a strategy for growth, rising costs have been a concern.

Expenses rose 7 per cent in the third quarter to $103.2 million due partly to a 7 per cent increase in staff costs to $39.4 million and a 9 per cent increase in tech spending.

But the quarter-on-quarter growth in staff costs was flat, pointing to caution in hiring.

"... we're guiding our full-year expenses towards the lower end of (the forecast range of) $415 million to $425 million," Mr Loh said.

SGX shares closed up three cents or 0.37 per cent at $8.05 yesterday ahead of the results announcement.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 21, 2016, with the headline 'Third-quarter profit at SGX inches up 1%'. Print Edition | Subscribe