SP Setia drops 5% after CEO resigns, 3Q profit misses estimates

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 18): Property giant S P Setia Bhd fell as much as 16 sen or 4.83% following another round of reshuffling in top management and a tepid rise in its third quarter net profit.

Analysts said SP Setia's latest financials had missed estimates.

At 10:45 am, SP Setia recouped some of the losses to trade at RM3.25 with a total of 335,600 shares changing hands. At 11.44am, the stock was transacted at RM3.27.

The stock had earlier fallen to an intraday low of RM3.15.

S P Setia yesterday announced that its Acting President and CEO Datuk Voon Tin Yow would leave the group after nearly two decades, a surprising move as he was slated to hold onto the post until his contract expires on April 30 of next year.

His resignation comes into effect on Jan 1, 2015. Current acting deputy Datuk Khor Chap Jen will assume Voon’s post.

Today, analysts said Voon's resignation had surprised the market.

“We are surprised by the earlier-than-expected departure of Voon before his one-year management contract expires on Apr 30, 2015. In our opinion, frequent changes in leadership could hamper the development of S P Setia’s strategy direction, which may in turn affect the group’s project execution and profit margin,” said TA Securities Holdings Bhd analyst Thiam Chiann Wen.

Thiam had maintained TA's “sell” rating on SP Setia shares with a target price of RM3.08.

Earlier this year, SP Setia's long-time chief Tan Sri Liew Kee Sin and then-Chief Financial Officer Datuk Teow Leong Seng also resigned from the property group

Yesterday, SP Setia also said net profit for the third quarter ended July 31, 2014 (3QFY14) of RM103.32 million was 1.99% higher than the previous corresponding quarter’s RM101.3 million on an 11.89% higher revenue of RM902.66 million.

“S P Setia’s 3QFY14 results missed our estimate and market expectation by 15% and 26%, respectively. Apart from the contributions from all the ongoing projects, earnings and profit margins for the quarter were partly lifted by the RM125 million sale of a parcel of land in Setia Alam for the development of 1NIH Complex.

“In view of the continued disappointment in earnings, we lower our FY14 and FY15 earnings forecasts by 9% to 11%. Unbilled sales remained steady at RM10.88 billion,” RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd analyst Loong Kok Wen said in a note today.

Nonetheless, RHB still has a “buy” call on SP Setia shares with a target price of RM4.08. Loong said that the research house believed there would be a mergers and acquisition or restructuring plans by major shareholder Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) over the next six to nine months.

Reports had been rife for the past year that state-owned investment fund PNB had been looking for ways to consolidate its various property arms, which included S P Setia, Island & Peninsular Bhd and Sime Darby Property Bhd.