Q3 results bode ill for 2016 forecasts

Earnings for the shipping, oil and gas sectors were below expectations. Headwinds include weakening Asian currencies and a slowdown in global trade.
Earnings for the shipping, oil and gas sectors were below expectations. Headwinds include weakening Asian currencies and a slowdown in global trade.PHOTO: REUTERS

Analysts cut earnings outlook amid challenges to global, regional economies

Analysts say the disappointing results in the third quarter mean the numbers for corporate profits next year will be even less impressive.

Many have begun downgrading their earnings forecasts for 2016, pointing to the challenges to global and regional economies that have taken their toll on firms across the spectrum, from construction to energy and banks.

Ms Janice Chua, Singapore head of equities research at DBS Bank, has cut her earnings forecast by 4 to 5 per cent for this year and next.

Last year, DBS cut its earnings forecasts for 2015 by 1 to 2 per cent.

"DBS sees 6 per cent earnings growth next year," she said. "But conditions are still quite tough. A lot depends on the recovery in major economies, and the outlook is still uncertain. That will affect the earnings of Singapore companies next year."


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The forecast for this year is a fall in earnings of 2.5 per cent, she said.

The bank has downgraded its full-year earnings forecasts of 50 companies out of 77 that have reported third-quarter numbers, and upgraded 20. It remained neutral on seven others.

"Earnings came in below expectations, particularly in the oil and gas and shipping sectors," Ms Chua said.

Headwinds from weakening Asian currencies against the greenback, Singapore's declining GDP growth in recent quarters, lower oil and commodities prices, and a slowdown in global trade were among factors cited for the poor showing.

In particular, the oil-price drop hit capital expenditure by big energy firms on exploration and production, which flowed down the value chain to affect rigbuilders, shipyards and offshore support vessel owners, Ms Chua said.

Nomura Global Markets Research also sees Singapore-listed companies suffering "worsening downgrade momentum, especially for 2016 earnings per share (EPS) forecasts". Its EPS forecast is down 0.9 per cent for this year and down 2.5 per cent for next year.

Consumer services, food and beverage, and retailing are bearing the brunt of the full-year downgrades for 2016, along with capital goods and banks, Nomura analyst Yiran Zhong said.

Mr Ong Kian Lin, head of research of RHB Research Institute, said the downgrades for this year and next year started as early as in the second quarter reporting season.

"In the second quarter, we were forecasting 15 to 20 per cent cuts in earnings for this year and next year. By the third quarter, the forecast for some of these companies' earnings were cut by 30 to 50 per cent."

He added: "Oil, gas and shipping were particularly hard-hit. Consumer companies are also seeing earnings cut due to China's slowdown."

RHB has downgraded earnings for a range of firms for this year, including Osim International, BreadTalk Group, Vard Holdings and Pacific Radiance, all of which posted disappointing third-quarter earnings.

"A lot of companies that do business in Indonesia and Malaysia sell in ringgit or rupiah, and their earnings are hit when these are translated back to the stronger Singdollar," said Mr Ong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline 'Q3 results bode ill for 2016 forecasts'. Print Edition | Subscribe