SMRT Corp's second quarter profits fall 56.8% as costs outpace revenue growth

LTA will study extending the JRL to the CCL through a West Coast Extension (WCE) with possibly new stations in the West Coast and Pasir Panjang area.
LTA will study extending the JRL to the CCL through a West Coast Extension (WCE) with possibly new stations in the West Coast and Pasir Panjang area.PHOTO: ST FILE

LAND transport operator SMRT Corporation said on Thursday that second quarter net profit slumped 56.8 per cent as its MRT services generated lower earnings and the bus and LRT losses widened.

Earnings for the three months to Sept 30 were $14.4 million, from $33.3 million in the same period last year.

Revenue was higher by 5.3 per cent to $296.3 million.

But operating expenses rose 15.8 per cent to $285.8 million due mainly to higher staff, repair and maintenance and depreciation costs.

"The fare business remains challenging despite healthy ridership growth as fares have not been adjusted to reflect the higher operating costs," said SMRT in a statement. It noted that MRT and bus operations both performed worse despite higher turnover.

Still, the non-fare business showed healthy growth with a 10.9 per cent increase in operating profit to $25.8 million, driven by higher profits from leasing out taxis, renting out shop space and displaying advertisments.

Operating profits from engineering and other services declined due to higher costs in external fleet maintenance projects.

SMRT said that net profit for the six months to Sept 30 fell 55.9 per cent to $30.8 million, despite revenue increasing 4.4 per cent to $581.1 million.

Earnings per share for the half-year were two cents, from 4.6 cents in the year-ago period. Net asset value per share was 51.6 cents at Sept 30, from 50.5 cents at March 31.

The company's directors declared an interim dividend of one cent per share, down from 1.5 cents a year ago.

"We continue to make good progress in improving service frequency and reliability in our train and bus operations," said president and chief executive Desmond Kuek in a statement.

"The financials for the fare business remain challenging. We continue to discuss with the authorities on details for a timely transition to a viable and sustainable model for the train and bus businesses."