Losses from associates dragged Metro Holdings into the red in the fourth quarter, it reported yesterday.
The property and retail group posted a net loss of $1.9 million, a reversal from the net profit of $34.2 million a year earlier.
Revenue for the three months to March 31 rose 1.8 per cent to $34.3 million, with the bulk coming from the retail segment.
The firm told a briefing that it had been more aggressive in its marketing. However, gross profit fell 18.5 per cent to $2.3 million due to lower margins and higher operating costs.
Mr David Tang, chief executive of the retail operations, said consumers are more "price conscious" and Metro faces a lot of competition.
The group received $15.8 million from the sale of a 30 per cent interest in an associate in Nanchang and a $3.6 million gain on the disposal of available-for-sale-investments. Unrealised foreign exchange losses were lower by $5.4 million.
But the bottom line was hurt significantly by the loss of $24.3 million recorded in the share of results of associates (net of tax), against a gain of $20.1 million in the same quarter last year.
AT A GLANCE
REVENUE: $34.3 million (+1.8%)
NET LOSS: $1.9 million (comparison not meaningful)
FINAL DIVIDENDS per share: 5 cents (unchanged)
This was mainly because of a fall in the group's share of Hong Kong-listed Chinese developer Top Spring International Holdings' results, Metro said.
Revenue for the full year rose 3.9 per cent to $136 million while net profit jumped 93.9 per cent to $156 million, driven by a divestment gain of $159 million arising from Top Spring's disposal of eight property projects. This was largely recognised in the third quarter.
Full-year earnings per share rose to 18.9 cents from 9.7 cents in the preceding year. Net asset value per share edged up to $1.78 as at March 31, from $1.63 a year earlier.
The board has recommended a total final payout of five cents a share, including a special dividend of three cents, similar to last year.
Mr Tang said the retail segment will remain "challenging", and the firm will explore underserved cities in Indonesia and explore how to use technology to cut costs.
Metro group chief executive Lawrence Chiang added that it will grow its property presence in China, Britain and Indonesia. Metro shares closed unchanged at $1.17 yesterday.