A strong performance from its student dormitories in Britain lifted second-quarter earnings at Centurion Corporation, it reported yesterday.
Net profit rose 28 per cent to $9.8 million, while revenue for the three months to June 30 shot up 33 per cent to $26.4 million.
Turnover in the company's accommodation business was particularly impressive, growing 40 per cent to $24.9 million.
The firm also announced yesterday that it will pay dividends every six months, with an interim dividend of 0.5 cent per share declared for the first half of this year.
AT A GLANCE
NET PROFIT $9.8 million (+28%)
REVENUE $26.4 million (+33%)
INTERIM DIVIDEND 0.5 cent per share
The group's revenue rose 38 per cent to $51.7 million in the first half of this year compared with a year earlier.
Centurion's net profit for the half-year was $19 million, down 37 per cent year on year. It reported a net profit of $30.3 million in the same period last year due to a one-off gain of $17.3 million from the sale of industrial factory units.
If this sale is excluded, net profit from its core business operations came in at $19 million, up 45 per cent on last year.
This was largely due to Centurion's expansion into the student dormitory business in Britain and the increased bed capacity at its workers' dormitories in Toh Guan and Westlite Tampoi in Johor, Malaysia.
The occupancy rate at the three workers' dormitories here stood at 95 per cent as at June 30 and 90 per cent at its six workers' facilities in Johor. Its five student accommodation centres in Australia and Britain operated at close to full occupancy.
Earnings per share for the second quarter was 1.30 cents, up from 1.02 cents from a year earlier, while net asset value was 52.71 cents as at June 30 compared with 51.6 cents per share as at Dec 31.
Chief executive Kong Chee Min told a results briefing yesterday that its decision to pay dividends on a half-yearly basis is "a reflection of the group's financial strength and growth prospects".
The firm will add another 9,600 beds to its workers' accommodation capacity this year with the recent completion of Westlite Woodlands last month and the expected completion of Westlite Senai II in Malaysia in the fourth quarter.
Centurion also expects to complete the refurbishment of a student hostel in Selegie Road that could house 315 students by the fourth quarter of this year.
The group will add almost 29,000 beds to its overall workers' dormitory portfolio in the next two years, with the completion of its 7,900-bed dormitory in Papan (Jurong) next year and two other dormitories in Malaysia by the end of 2017.
Chief investment officer Ho Lip Chin said that despite the headwinds in Singapore's economy, workers' accommodation is a resilient asset class, while student dormitories provide a stable source of income stream.
"We see growth potential in both (workers' and student accommodation) segments, and will explore opportunities to further expand in both existing and new markets," said Mr Kong.
Centurion shares closed flat at 47.5 cents yesterday.