Monday, October 20, 2008

Daily news - 20 Oct

GuocoLand in the red over forex paper losses
GuocoLand Ltd – Reported a net loss of $2.8m for the first quarter ended Sept 30, compared with a net profit of $27.7m a year ago. It attributed this mainly to unrealised mark-to-market foreign exchange loss of $19.2m arising from the revaluation of US$300m in bank loans as the US dollar appreciated against the Singapore dollar. Group revenue fell 20% to $153.1m from a year ago due mainly to lower revenue recognised for property development projects in China. But it said that this was partially offset by higher revenue and cost of sales recognised for property development projects in Singapore. Cash and cash equivalents for the quarter came to $620.66m, down from $1.53bn a year ago. The aggregate amount of the group's borrowings and debt securities repayable in one year or less (or on demand) at end-September was $163.75m (secured) and $705.66m (unsecured). The amount repayable after one year as at end-September was $1.29bn (secured) and $871.66m (unsecured). Loss per ordinary share for the period came to 0.34 of a cent.

Ascendas-Reit Q2 net rises 14.8% to $53.3m on additional rental income
Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (A-Reit) – Reported net distributable income of $53.3m for its second quarter ended Sept 30, 2008. This is 14.8% higher than a year ago. Fuelled mainly by additional rental income from completed acquisitions and development projects, gross revenue rose 21.3% Y/Y to $97.3m. Distributable income per unit (DPU) was 4.01 cents, up 14.2% from the same period last year. Based on the six months to Sept 30, annualised DPU stands at 15.8 cents. This translates to an annualised yield of 8.4% based on the $1.87 closing price of units on Sept 30. First-half gross revenue, net distributable income and DPU all increased from a year earlier. With credit concerns growing in the market, A-Reit said that it remains committed to prudent capital management. For instance, it has entered into fixed-rate hedging for 76.7% of its debt for the next 3.93 years at a weighted average cost of 3.25%. It is also getting a $1bn medium term note programme ready in November to diversify funding sources. For A-Reit's portfolio of 88 properties with a total book value of around $4.5bn, the overall occupancy rate was 98% at Sept 30.

Banyan Tree sees Q3 loss due to recent Thai riots
Banyan Tree – Will report a loss for its third quarter to September, its first three-month loss since June 2006. The company blamed recent riots in Thailand, which had forced the closure of Phuket Airport. 'As a result, our Laguna resorts' businesses were affected. This is compounded by the fact that third quarter is our shoulder season,' it said. The company, which operates 23 resorts in the Asia-Pacific, is also expecting Q4 operating profit to be lower than a year ago. Still, it expects to remain profitable for the full year, with revenue exceeding last year's total. But continued political turmoil in key resort territories such as Thailand could 'have a significant impact on the group, especially if accessibility to our properties are hindered or travel advisories are issued by countries of our key guest markets'. Banyan Tree said that forward booking reservations remained healthy and on par with last year. It said that it has no bilateral dealings with known troubled financial institutions and has not entered into any complex financial instruments and thus does not have any potential direct exposure to the instability caused by such products.

iPhone the Apple of SingTel's eye
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) – Apple’s iPhone 3G has topped SingTel’s handset sales charts last month and the operator is slashing subscription fees to keep the gadget fever from waning. A SingTel spokesman said that the iPhone was the firm's 'best-selling' handset in September. Three variants of the touch-screen device are being offered by SingTel, the only telco to get the official nod from Apple to sell the phone here. The iPhone barrage is made up of a basic 8GB (gigabyte) version and two higher-end 16GB models offered in shades of black and white. The trio cornered the top three spots in SingTel's September phone sales tally, he claimed. While the company declined to provide exact sales figures, it maintains that 'tens of thousands' of iPhones have been sold since its local debut on Aug 22, making it one of the fastest-selling phones in Singapore history. The initial shipment was depleted last month but SingTel has since restocked its iPhone war-chest to meet future demand. With consumer spending likely to nosedive amid the economic gloom, the country's largest operator is hoping to keep its iPhone sales alive by granting buyers temporary subscription relief.

Source: Kim Eng

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