Noble’s 4Q11 Earnings Tumble 57% To US$105.7m
Noble Group said its profit for the fourth quarter tumbled 57 percent to US$105.7 million, mainly due to lower operating margins from its agriculture, metals, minerals and ores businesses. Revenue for the quarter rose 15.4 percent to US$20.1 billion while net profit margins fell to 0.53 percent from 1.42 percent in the previous year. The results bring the group’s FY11 earnings to US$431.3 million, a 29 percent drop from US$605.6 million a year ago. Earlier this month, Noble named former Goldman Sachs top Asian banker Yusuf Alireza as its chief executive officer. In addition, Noble had in November gained approval from the Singapore Exchange to list the agriculture arm on the main board. Analysts said the proposed IPO has been postponed because of the weak markets.
Significance: In the short to medium term, outcome for the approval of Gloucester-Yancoal merger would be in focus. JP Morgan added that Noble’s sugar business is likely to be a key driver of its earnings growth amounting to 21 percent of incremental operating income in FY12.
STX PO Posts Surprise 4Q11 Profit Of US$47m
STX Pan Ocean (STX PO) posted a surprise profit of US$47 million for the fourth quarter ended 31 December, this represented a more than six-fold increase compared to the US$7 million in 4Q10, helped by the strength of the dry-bulk market. Still, for the full year, the South Korean shipping company fell into the same fate as other shipping companies worldwide and incurred a loss of US$19.4 million as against a profit of US$69.9 million in FY10. On its business performance, operating profits of US$48 million and US$26.8 million were recorded for its bulk carrier and car carrier & LNG carrier segments respectively. However, this was lower than the operating losses recorded in its container shipping and tanker divisions. In terms of revenue, the fourth quarter was down 11.4 percent to US$1.3 billion while the full year slid 7.4 percent to US$5.2 billion from US$5.6 billion. A final dividend of $0.071 per share was proposed.
Significance: Despite the surprise profit in the fourth quarter, STX PO does not expect 1Q12 to repeat the positive showing. Specifically, Capesize is unlikely to stay firm due to high iron ore port inventory as well as property tightening measures and growth slowdown in China.
Hong Leong Finance FY11 Profit Declines 18.2%
Hong Leong Finance, Singapore’s largest finance company, saw its profits declined 18.2 percent to $99.8 million from $122 million for the full year ended December 2011. The reduced profit attributed to the low interest rate environment, the bottom line would have registered a steeper fall if not for a $26.8 million reversal of provisions. For the year, net loan assets rose 18.7 percent to $7.5 billion while deposits and balances of customers edged up 8.1 percent higher to $7.8 billion. The growth in loan book helped cushion pressure on lending products, which was represented by a 13 percent drop in total interest income/hiring charges. A final dividend of $0.08 per share was proposed.
Significance: Hong Leong Finance remains cautious in its near term outlook. Besides the euro crisis as well as weaknesses in China and the US, it is mindful of the new property measures as residential properties sales would and in turn affect its performance.