The absence of one off-gains undercut earnings at Singapore Post in the first quarter, it reported yesterday.
Net profit came in 23 per cent down at $35.9 million, due mainly to a $8.4 million one-off gain recorded last year from the divestments of Novation Solutions and DataPost HK.
Underlying net profit, which excludes one-off items, was down 11.2 per cent.
Revenue in the three months to June 30 was $333 million, up 30.9 per cent from the first quarter of last year, on contributions from recently acquired e-commerce firms TradeGlobal and Jagged Peak in the United States. But the operating loss for SingPost's e-commerce segment widened by 82.7 per cent to $3.5 million in the first quarter from a year earlier.
Mr Mervyn Lim, covering group chief executive, said at a briefing yesterday that TradeGlobal and Jagged Peak contributed a small profit to the segment on a combined basis, though this was offset by continued investments in IT and operational capabilities as part of integration efforts. There were also marketing expenses ahead of the year-end holiday period, when e-commerce volumes are expected to peak.
The management has set a tar- get to "focus sharply" on "integrating" the e-commerce segment in the next one to two years, Mr Lim added.
AT A GLANCE
REVENUE: $333 million (+30.9%)
NET PROFIT: $35.9 million (-23%)
DIVIDEND: 1.5 cents (unchanged)
Property-related income fell 8.6 per cent to $9.7 million owing to the loss of rent from the redevelopment of SPC mall at Paya Lebar, which is due for completion by mid-2017.
Total expenses climbed 33.6 per cent to $298 million in the first quarter as labour costs rose after the US acquisitions while volume-related charges were driven up by international mail outpayments, freight forwarding conveyance outgoings and outsourcing costs incurred by SingPost's asset-light strategy.
First-quarter earnings per share was 1.49 cents, down from two cents a year ago, while net asset value per share was 73.68 cents as at June 30, up from 72.26 cents as at March 31.
An interim dividend of 1.5 cents per share was declared, the same as last year.
Mr Lim said SingPost will be reviewing its dividend policy of seven cents a share per year to ensure that it is sustainable and linked clearly to underlying earnings, echoing comments made by chairman Simon Israel at the group's annual shareholders' meeting last month.
Mr Lim also said the search for a new group chief executive is in the "advanced stages", and a name will be announced at the end of the year.
Likewise, no new updates were given on whether e-commerce giant Alibaba would raise its equity stake in SingPost or take up a holding in SingPost logistics unit Quantium Solutions. The long-stop date for both deals is Oct 31.
Earnings were announced after trading hours. The counter closed up a cent at $1.43 on Thursday.