Venture Corp net profit up 72% to $83.7m in Q1

Venture has 150 clients and made more than 5,000 products in areas such as communications, networking, life sciences and building automation, said chief executive Wong Ngit Liong.
Venture has 150 clients and made more than 5,000 products in areas such as communications, networking, life sciences and building automation, said chief executive Wong Ngit Liong.PHOTO: VENTURE CORPORATION

CEO tackles issue of short-sellers, rejects online report on alleged product

Venture Corp has come back down to earth after last year's record-setting growth, with a set of first-quarter results that is more sturdy than stellar.

Net profit in the three months to March 31 was $83.7 million, up 72.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Revenue was $856 million, up 1.5 per cent. In United States dollar terms, revenue for the first quarter would have grown by 9.1 per cent, the company said.

Net profit margin was 9.8 per cent.

"If the US dollar had stayed neutral for the reported quarter, our margin would probably have been double-digit," chief financial officer Alvin Ng told a results briefing.

The briefing opened in a more sombre tone than usual as chairman and chief executive Wong Ngit Liong addressed the prickly issue of short-sellers attacking Venture.

  • AT A GLANCE

  • REVENUE: $856 million (+1.5%)

    NET PROFIT: $83.7 million (+72.2%)

Last Friday, one million Venture shares worth $26.9 million were sold short.

On Monday, an online report arose from an anonymous group called Valiant Varriors claiming that Venture makes 30 per cent of its revenue from a cigarette substitute that has plateaued in sales.

"Do these people have the guts to show their face?" Mr Wong asked, adding: "Don't listen to rumours."

He would not be drawn into discussing specific customers, but he stressed that Venture has 150 clients and made more than 5,000 products in its life, spanning areas such as communications, networking, life sciences and building automation.

He added: "The kind of products we create for our customers are sold in the marketplace for as high as a million bucks. We're not designing Mickey Mouse stuff.

"We have had to build up this knowledge for the past 15 to 20 years. It doesn't come overnight.

"If (what we do) is easy to duplicate, you think we can make these kinds of margins?"

Mr Wong also reiterated that the transformation of Venture, which had its beginnings in simple assembly work, is not over.

He said: "We are constantly looking at 20 to 30 other new kinds of ecosystems that may be important for the future and are starting to building that now."

He added: "We are hiring scientists, we are hiring biomedical people, we are hiring good software people, firmware especially. And good chemical engineers."

Net cash as of March 31 was $724.6 million.

First-quarter earnings per share were 29.2 cents, up from 17.4 cents in the first quarter last year.

Net asset value per share was $7.85 as of March 31, up from a restated $7.61 as of Dec 31.

Venture shares closed down 3.55 per cent to $22.57 yesterday before the results were released.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 26, 2018, with the headline 'Venture Corp net profit up 72% to $83.7m in Q1'. Print Edition | Subscribe