SMRT Q1 profit rises 38.5% to $37.94m

LOWER costs and higher revenue from its trains and buses helped boost SMRT Corp’s net profit for the first quarter ended June 30 by 38.5 per cent to $37.94 million compared to the same period last year.

SMRT, which runs Singapore’s biggest rail network, said Q1 revenue rose 7.8 per cent to $194.19 million mainly because of an increase in passenger numbers on the trains and buses, a better hired-out rate for its taxi fleet, and higher turnover from advertising and rental.

Cost increases were much lower than the growth in revenue, as staff costs were less than expected, and repairs and maintenance for trains were delayed. But total operating expenses still rose $2.1 million or 1.4 per cent to $153.3 million due to higher energy costs and other operating expenses.

Higher electricity costs for trains were offset by stronger MRT revenue, which grew $8.9 million, or 9.1 per cent, to $106.8 million. This was thanks to average daily passenger numbers rising 6.9 per cent to 1.2 million and, to a smaller extent, the fare increase from Oct 1, 2006. Operating profit grew 13 per cent to $32.0 million.

Electricity and diesel costs rose by $3.6 million, or 19.7 per cent, to $21.8 million.

Bus revenue inched up 3.3 per cent to $48.3 million, resulting in an operating profit of $500,000 compared with a loss of $500,000 in the same quarter last year.

Taxi revenue improved by 11.4 per cent to $17.9 million and the operating loss narrowed to $300,000 compared with a loss of $3.2 million in the corresponding quarter.

Staff and related costs were down $2.2 million or 3.4 per cent to $62.4 million mainly because of the deconsolidation of Transit Link’s staff cost.

Earnings per share rose to 2.5 cents from 1.8 cents in the same quarter last year. The group’s net tangible asset per share was 42 cents, up from 39.6 cents three months earlier.

SMRT said it expects Q2 operating expenses to be higher than the same period last year because of more scheduled repairs and maintenance and the rise in employers’ CPF contribution by 1.5 percentage points from July 1. Electricity costs are also expected to go up and diesel prices likely to remain volatile.

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