SingPost has surprised shareholders with an improved dividend payout in its latest results, but has offered no clues on how close it is to finding a new chief executive.
"This is something we have left to the search committee," chief financial officer Mervyn Lim told reporters, reiterating that SingPost is looking both internally and externally for a new CEO.
SingPost's share price has tumbled since the shock resignation of former CEO Wolfgang Baier last December, which aggravated concerns over its corporate governance standards.
It posted a 0.6 per cent rise in third-quarter net profit to $43.5 million yesterday, up from the same period a year earlier. A quarterly dividend of 1.5 cents per share was declared, up from 1.25 cents in the third quarter last year.
"We have maintained our existing dividend of 1.25 cents for eight years, and therefore the board has taken the decision to increase that dividend amount to 1.5 cents. We are confident of sustaining that dividend payout," said Mr Lim.
Revenue in the three months ended Dec 31 surged 32 per cent to $316.2 million, helped by the consolidation of new United States e-commerce unit TradeGlobal, which contributed $29.4 million in revenue for the quarter.
AT A GLANCE
$316.2 million (+32%)
$43.5 million (+0.6%)
1.5 cents (+20%)
Logistics revenue was also higher, with the inclusion of new subsidiaries and more activities related to e-commerce in December.
Total expenses climbed 37.9 per cent to $273.26 million, as warehousing costs and headcount also rose with the inclusion of new subsidiaries.
"Expenses would go up if business activity goes up and one of the key reasons why expenses rose significantly was... we engaged in acquisitions and (paid) professional fees for due diligence work," Mr Lim said. SingPost is not acquiring any more targets at the moment, he added, and is in a "post-merger integration" stage where it will focus on building a "one-stop shop solution" for customers with the networks it has acquired.
Earnings per share stood at 1.84 cents, unchanged from a year earlier. Net asset value per share was 68.97 cents as of Dec 31, up from 68.37 cents as of March last year.
Asked about SingPost's controversial choice of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to undertake a special audit of the group, Mr Lim said the company's special audit committee would be in a better position to comment at a future date.
In a separate statement yesterday, Securities Investors Association of Singapore (Sias) president David Gerald called for PwC to be allowed to conduct the special audit, "knowing that PwC will maintain its independence in strict compliance with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) code". "Sias understands from Acra that it has communicated clearly to PwC that the requirements of the Acra code must be met and that any necessary safeguards must be applied to ensure the independence of PwC," said Mr Gerald.
SingPost shares rose 1.5 cents or 1.13 per cent to close at $1.345 yesterday.