ComfortDelGro bounces back with $91m in interim earnings

ComfortDelGro posted a 13.6 per cent rise in interim revenue to $1.74 billion.
ComfortDelGro posted a 13.6 per cent rise in interim revenue to $1.74 billion.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Transport giant ComfortDelGro returned to the black for the half year with earnings of $91 million in the six months to June 30.

This compared with a net loss of $6.6 million same time last year and was due largely to government relief, lower power and fuel expenditure and a dip in staff costs. Higher ridership compared with the first six months of 2020 also helped.

The Singapore-based group with operations in places such as Australia, China and Britain posted a 13.6 per cent rise in interim revenue to $1.74 billion.

Total operating costs shrank by 5.2 per cent to $1.6 billion. With government relief amounting to $57.2 million (compared with $82.3 million same period last year), ComfortDelGro's operating profit soared to $134.6 million, from $5.8 million previously.

Earnings per share went from a negative 0.3 cents to 4.2 cents. Net asset value per share stood at 126.04 cents compared with a restated 122.15 cents previously.

The public transport business posted an operating profit of $82.5 million, up from $55.5 million. Taxis went from a loss of $68.4 million to a profit of $17.9 million.

Its inspection division run by Vicom posted an operating profit of $15.2 million, up from $9.4 million. The driving centre posted a gain of $10.1 million, from a loss of $1.2 million earlier.

Cash and equivalents as at Jun 30 stood at $892.8 million, up from $619.9 million. Group gross gearing stood at 15.1 per cent, down from 18 per cent as at Dec 31.

Directors are declaring an interim dividend of 2.1 cents per share. No interim dividend was declared for the first six months of 2020.

Group chief executive Yang Ban Seng described the six months as "painful but tolerable".

"The global situation continues to be difficult but it is definitely an improvement over the catastrophic conditions we all experienced last year," he said, adding that "the continuous see-saw effect of lockdowns and reopenings has taken its toll on businesses and the community alike".

Mr Yang said the group had endeavoured to reduce cost without cutting jobs, and that it is still extending rental relief to its cabbies.

"Amid all these, we have been reviewing our business models and accelerating our digitalisation programmes in a bid to remain nimble in an exceedingly trying environment," he added.

The group expects the global economic recovery "will vary across countries and sectors, depending on the pace of vaccination and re-openings as well as macro policy actions".

It expects changes in commuting patterns, technological disruptions and competition.

"We expect a slow and uneven recovery in ridership resulting in depressed revenues and margins," the group said.

"With a strong balance sheet, the group remains committed to its long-term mobility strategy."