Printing firm A-Smart sinks into red in Q4 on diversification costs

SINGAPORE - Mainboard-listed printer A-Smart Holdings fell into the red for the fourth quarter, despite an uptick in revenue amid business diversification, according to unaudited results out on Thursday night (Sept 27).

Revenue inched up by 1.5 per cent year on year to $1.87 million, as takings from the new sale of Google home products in the group's technology segment offset the slip in its core printing business.

Still, the company recorded a net loss of $267,000 for the three months to July 31, against earnings of $41,000 for the same period the year before.

The bottom line was done in by inventory changes, with higher levels of project-specific materials expensed off for the quarter, as well as the share of loss of an associate and higher fees incurred on the planned expansion into real estate in Timor Leste.

A-Smart clocked a loss per share of 0.22 Singapore cent, compared with earnings per share of 0.04 Singapore cent previously.

"The printing industry remained challenging in Q4 2018, as new technologies from the digital print segment replaced a significant portion of the demand in the traditional offset printing segment," A-Smart said in its results announcement.

"The group has upgraded its machinery in order to gain a higher market share for specialised printing, which commands a higher profit margin."

It added in its outlook statement that it is also working to grow the client base of the printing business.

Meanwhile, A-Smart has partnered developers and contractors to establish Google Home and Google Home Mini products at property projects in Singapore, and is working on other tie-ups too, it said.

Its associate in China is holding to the strategy of gradually expanding the chain of Sheng Siong-branded supermarket stores, it added. A-Smart's share of losses was $88,000 for the quarter.

According to the group, its proposed property development and real estate business in Timor Leste is still "in progress", but the start of construction work was held up by recent elections.

A-Smart said: "The group's new business segments have just commenced sales and we remain confident that the group's restructuring is relevant for positive contribution."

The group recorded a net loss of $606,000 for the full year, after earning $132,000 previously, while 12-month turnover slid by 8.3 per cent to $7.22 million.

No dividend was declared, unchanged from the previous year.

A-Smart ended flat at $0.56, before the results.