Bus and rail operator SBS Transit posted a 24.5 per cent rise in net earnings to $24.2 million for the second quarter ended June 30, on the back of higher fares and rising ridership.
Revenue for the ComfortDelGro subsidiary grew by 3.9 per cent to $358.5 million, while cost crept up by 2.1 per cent to $328 million.
For the first half, it saw net profit climbing by 23.9 per cent to $44.9 million on a 5.4 per cent rise in revenue to $709.3 million.
As of June 30, SBS Transit's trade receivables stood at $144.8 million, 17.2 per cent higher than on Dec 31 last year. In contrast, its trade payables stood at $228.3 million, 22.3 per cent lower. Per share, second-quarter profit was up from 6.24 cents to 7.76 cents. Net tangible asset backing per share was $1.64, up from $1.60. Margin before depreciation, interest and tax widened to 15.7 per cent from 13.6 per cent in same period last year.
Average fares for the MRT Downtown Line rose by 7.7 per cent in the second quarter while average daily ridership grew by 6.9 per cent to 467,000 passenger trips. Average fares for the North East Line (NEL) and Sengkang-Punggol LRT were 2.6 and 6.3 per cent higher, respectively. Ridership was up 1.5 per cent to 588,000 a day for the NEL, and 8 per cent to 139,000 trips for the LRT.
The non-transit business also fared better, largely from higher advertising revenue. It had a net cash inflow of $1.5 million for the quarter, mainly from new loans raised and net cash from operating activities.
As of June 30, SBS Transit had cash and bank balances of $7.6 million. After accounting for $101 million in borrowing, it had a net debt position of $93.4 million, and a net gearing ratio of 18.2 per cent (up from 8.5 per cent on Dec 31 last year). Its gross gearing ratio was 19.7 per cent (up from 15 per cent on Dec 31).
The directors expect revenue to continue growing on the back of higher fares and ridership, in part from full-year contributions from the Seletar and Bukit Merah bus contract packages. They said total rail revenue is not sufficient to cover operating and maintenance costs of rail operators "despite the 4.3 per cent fare adjustment from Dec 29, 2018".
AT A GLANCE
REVENUE: $358.5 million (+3.9%)
NET PROFIT: $24.2 million (+24.5%)
Nonetheless, they recommend an interim dividend of 7.15 cents a share, up from 5.8 cents same time last year. SBS Transit shares closed up 4 cents, or 0.98 per cent, at $4.12.