Raffles Medical has raised its dividend payout for the 2017 financial year, signalling confidence in its outlook as the private healthcare group prepares to launch a new hospital in China later this year.
For the full year ended Dec 31, net profit edged up 0.8 per cent year-on-year to $70.78 million.
Revenue rose 0.8 per cent to $477.58 million on the back of higher hospital services revenue from the increase in local patient load, as well as higher income from the fully leased space at Raffles Holland V.
Revenue from hospital services and investment holdings grew by 2.3 per cent and 21.1 per cent respectively, while healthcare services revenue dipped 1.6 per cent due to lower renewal of international healthcare plans for expatriates.
The directors recommended a final dividend of 1.75 cents per share. Including an interim dividend of half a cent paid last year, this brings the total dividend for the year to 2.25 cents per share. This is up from two cents a year ago.
Earnings per share meanwhile eased to 4.02 cents from 4.04 cents in the previous year. Net asset value per share rose to 41.45 cents as of Dec 31, from 38.12 cents a year ago.
At a briefing yesterday morning, executive chairman Loo Choon Yong told reporters the increase in dividend payout in fiscal 2017 underscored the group's confidence that it can maintain this level of dividends for shareholders.
AT A GLANCE
REVENUE: $477.6 million (+0.8%)
NET PROFIT: $70.8 million (+0.8%)
FINAL DIVIDEND PER SHARE: 1.75 cents (+16.7%)
"If we do well, we want to also have higher payout," he added.
The group also gave an update on its upcoming hospitals in China. Its 700-bed hospital in Chongqing will open its doors in the fourth quarter, starting with 300 beds in the initial phase. The 400-bed Raffles Hospital Shanghai will launch in the second half of next year.
In Singapore, its new 20-storey Specialist Centre, offering 220,000 sq ft of gross floor area, opened on Jan 22. The group plans to use about half the building for expansion and rent out the other half.
"Various specialist centres and the radiology centre have been relocated to the new building from the existing hospital," Raffles Medical said in its financial statement.
Work has also begun at Raffles Hospital to increase bed capacity and refurbish the podium for new food and beverage and other shops.
While the launch of the hospital in Chongqing will incur start-up costs of up to $10 million in the first year, Dr Loo stressed that the group is investing for the future.
It is aiming to have the new hospital in Chongqing break even in about three years.
Shares in Raffles Medical closed unchanged yesterday at $1.10.