Westports 4Q net profit up 36%, pays 7.95 sen dividend

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 8): Westports Holdings Bhd's net profit rose 36.1% to RM210.98 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2017 (4QFY17) from RM155 million a year ago, on lower tax expense mainly due to tax incentives.

Earnings per share were up at 6.19 sen in 4QFY17 from 4.55 sen in 4QFY16. Quarterly revenue, however, stayed flat at RM573.96 million from RM573.26 million in 4QFY16.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, Westports said operational revenue for 4QFY17, however, was down by 7% year-on-year (y-o-y) at RM435.1 million, mainly due to lower container throughput, which fell 13% y-o-y to 2.22 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units).

"(While) local container throughput recorded a growth of 15% (in 4QFY17), the transhipment segment saw a 23% decline. The lower performance on transhipment segment is due to changes in container shipping industry, arising from the formation of new global alliance and reconstituted service offerings and port of calls, as well as mergers and acquisitions," it added.

Nevertheless, the port operator declared a second interim dividend of 7.95 sen per share for FY17, payable on March 6.

For full year FY17, Westports' net profit increased 5.6% to RM651.51 million from RM616.83 million in FY16, while revenue was up 2.6% to RM2.09 billion from RM2.04 billion.

However, the group's operational revenue declined 5% y-o-y to RM1.716 billion in FY17, mainly due to a reduction in container throughput by 9% to 9.02 million TEUs.

"Local container throughput recorded a growth of 10%, while transhipment segment declined by 16% in FY17. The lower performance on transhipment segment is due to changes in container shipping industry, arising from the formation of new global alliance and reconstituted service offerings and port of calls, as well as mergers and acquisitions. These changes were effective from April 1, 2017," said Westports.

Westports also said its wholly-owned subsidiary Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd (WMSB), which was slapped with several bill of demands amounting to RM59.51 million by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department on Nov 23, 2016, has been engaging with the Customs and the Ministry of Finance.

"(WMSB) has also sought additional inputs to provide guidance, but received an unfavourable decision from the authorities on Dec 19 last year. An appeal is being processed to facilitate the convergence towards an amicable settlement in relation to the bills of demand," said Westports.

On prospects, Westports said its container throughput is expected to register modest growth rate of low single-digit percentage this year.

At 2.01pm, Westports shares were down 4 sen or 1.2% at RM3.29, with 70,800 shares done, bringing a market capitalisation of RM11.19 billion.