ComfortDelgro – BT

ComfortDelGro Q1 net up 4.6%

Bus business revenue slips 8.6% on foreign currency translation effect

COMFORTDELGRO’S net profit for the first quarter ended March 31, 2009, rose 4.6 per cent to $52.5 million, due largely to lower operating expenses incurred.

But Q1 revenue slipped 4.4 per cent to $716.6 million due to the negative translation effect of the weaker British pound and Australian dollar. The land transport giant said that although revenue growth was broadbased, both in geographical and segmental terms, this was offset by the adverse foreign currency translation effect.

It added that if not for this effect, revenue would have risen by 2.3 per cent to $766.7 million.

First-quarter operating profit increased by 7.0 per cent to $81.5 million as operating expenses decreased. The latter had dropped 5.7 per cent to $635.1 million mainly because of the lower cost of diesel purchased for resale to the group’s taxi drivers, as well as a reduction in fuel and electricity costs.

Staff costs were also lower, thanks to the government’s Jobs Credit scheme which subsidises wage bill for local workers.

Earnings per share was 2.52 cents per share, up from 2.41 cents in the previous corresponding quarter. No dividend has been recommended.

‘The global economic outlook is still very uncertain and the possibility of a global flu pandemic breaking out remains,’ said ComfortDelGro managing director and group CEO Kua Hong Pak. ‘Given the difficult operating environment, we have performed satisfactorily during the quarter.’

The group’s bus business saw Q1 revenue decline 8.6 per cent to $347.9 million mainly on a $32.3 million drop from the UK bus business because of the adverse forex impact.

In Singapore, revenue dipped 0.4 per cent to $142.2 million as the average daily bus ridership fell marginally by 0.3 per cent to 2.28 million. Including advertising and rental revenue, total bus revenue at listed unit SBS Transit came up to $149.1 million compared with $149.7 million a year ago. Revenue is expected to fall further due to the fare reduction exercise which came into effect on April 1, 2009, and the increase in the transfer rebate.

Revenue from the group’s overseas bus operations continued to exceed those of its Singapore operations, accounting for $192.6 million or 55.0 per cent of total group bus revenue of $347.9 million.

Taxi business saw a 2.3 per cent decrease in Q1 revenue to $225.4 million. But in Singapore, taxi revenue was 5.8 per cent higher at $152.1 million due to a larger operating fleet and an increase in cashless transactions.

Revenue for the rail business continued to grow strongly, surging 10.5 per cent to $27.4 million.

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