Lian Beng's half-time net profit falls 5.2% to $17.6 million

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - The financials of mainboard-listed property player Lian Beng Group took a hit in the first half-year as Covid-19 restrictions hammered the construction segment.

Net profit fell 5.2 per cent year on year to S$17.6 million for the six months to Nov 30, 2020, while revenue tumbled by 36.6 per cent to S$197.5 million.

The drag came on work suspension during the circuit-breaker period, as well as labour supply disruptions, its results released on Thursday (Jan 14) indicated.

But the hit to the top line was broad-based, as the hold-up in construction activity led to a decline in property development turnover.

Meanwhile, tenant rental rebates caused a decrease in investment holdings revenue, Lian Beng noted in its unaudited financial statements. Given the double-digit revenue drop, earnings slipped even with support from Lian Beng's share of results from associates and joint ventures, which were up year on year.

The home-grown building construction and property development company said it recognised more development profit and sales at its private-home projects; its dormitory business and investment holdings benefited from lower interest rates. These made up for a share of loss from the British hotel business.

Earnings per share came to 3.52 cents for the half-year, compared with 3.72 Singapore cents before; net asset value rose to 145.58 cents a share, up from 141.24 Singapore cents as at May 31, 2020.

No interim dividend was recommended, unlike the year before, when Lian Beng paid out $0.01 a share. The move came on a decision to prioritise cash conservation.

This was as the level of activity in the construction sector is expected to remain limited amid the Covid-19 pandemic; the group warned that the supply chain for materials may be disrupted, affecting construction project completion costs.

Still, Lian Beng's construction order book was $1.5 billion as at Jan 14, which the group said in its outlook statement should support its activities through FY2023.

The counter closed flat at $0.44, before the results were announced.