SBS Transit's first-half profit up 11.9 per cent on Government's wage support

Group revenue for the first half rose 6.2 per cent to $640.9 million.
Group revenue for the first half rose 6.2 per cent to $640.9 million.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - SBS Transit's (SBST) half-year net profit rose 11.9 per cent to $36.5 million, propped up by government relief, which helped cushion reduced ridership due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the transport operator said in a business update on Thursday (Aug 12).

It declared an interim dividend of 5.75 cents per share, representing a payout ratio of 49.2 per cent.

Group revenue for the first half rose 6.2 per cent to $640.9 million. Revenue from SBST's public-transport services business rose 5.9 per cent to $621.4 million, while that from other commercial services went up 18.1 per cent to $19.4 million for the period.

Operating profit went up 18.5 per cent year on year to $38.2 million, but this figure would have stood at just $3.6 million if not for support from the Singapore Government's Job Support Scheme, SBST said.

Earnings per share stood at 11.7 cents for the period.

SBST chief executive Cheng Siak Kian said the group maintains a "cautious outlook" for the rest of the financial year.

"As we enter the second half-year, there are still many uncertainties with regard to the trajectory of the virus, which is compounded by the emergence of (the) more contagious Delta variant. This may delay the pace of recovery of the economy, and the ridership on our trains," he said.

Public transport ridership is expected to improve, as more employees can now return to their workplaces, and as eateries and entertainment venues resume operations. But it is unlikely to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels in the near future, the group said.

It will also face rising costs as reliefs taper while energy prices continue to increase, among other factors.

As part of workplace protection measures, SBST said it will increase the number of employees sent for regular Covid-19 testing. As at Aug 7, about 94 per cent of its employees have received at least their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

SBS Transit closed at $3, unchanged from the day before.