ComfortDelGro profit pulled down by Singapore business, warns of rougher times ahead

ComfortDelGro Corp's operating expenses rose by 3.7 per cent to $3,489.9 million, led by staff cost and depreciation and amortistation. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Lower contributions from its Singapore business, higher costs and the impact of unfavourable foreign exchange pulled transport giant ComfortDelGro Corp's 2019 net earnings 12.6 per cent lower to $265.1 million.

For the year ended Dec 31, 2019, group revenue rose by 2.6 per cent to $3.9 billion on the back of contributions from new overseas acquisitions.

Operating expenses rose by 3.7 per cent to $3.49 billion, led by staff cost and depreciation and amortisation.

As a result, earnings per share fell from 14.01 to 12.24 cents.

Profitability remains sound, with margin before depreciation, interest and tax rising to 22.2 per cent, from 21.9 in 2018.

Net asset value per share stood at 119.8 cents, from 120.7 cents.

ComfortDelGro chief executive Yang Ban Seng said: "Having just emerged from a year of consolidation and reorganisation, we are now faced with new challenges brought on by the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak that first started in Wuhan, China.

"Our taxi, driving centre and bus station operations in China have been hit amidst measures to try and contain the spread. In Singapore, we have started seeing some negative impact on our taxi operations as tourist arrivals fall and residents avoid crowded places.

"I think things will get worse before they get better."

Notwithstanding the uncertainties, ComfortDelGro said it continues to focus on its strategy and to "transform and build capabilities".

Directors are recommending a final dividend of 5.29 cents, down from 6.15 cents previously.

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