Business

ComfortDelGro 3Q net earnings down 8.2%

Transport giant ComfortDelGro Corp posted an 8.2 per cent drop in net earnings to $80.1 million for the third quarter, with its core taxi business dented by private-hire competition.

Revenue slipped 2.4 per cent to $991.4 million, with the taxi division accounting for the bulk of the fall, posting an operating profit of $37.5 million for the three months, down 20.7 per cent from the corresponding period last year.

The group's engineering division, which includes diesel sales to cabbies, posted an operating profit of $8.5 million, almost half of its previous figure.

The two units posted a combined revenue of $340.4 million, 12.2 per cent lower than previously.

ComfortDelGro's operating expenses were 1 per cent lower at $879.9 million, and its taxation was 14.3 per cent less at $21 million.

ALLIANCES

Group chief executive Yang Ban Seng said: "The operating environment has been difficult. But we are in this business for the long haul, and we will continue to look at sustainable strategies through strategic alliances."

In August, ComfortDelGro announced that it was in alliance talks with American ride-hailing firm Uber. Both parties are said to be doing their due diligence now.

Since that announcement, rival ride-hailing firm Grab has upped the ante with discounts targeted at Comfort cabbies. ComfortDelGro has lost several hundred drivers or more.

Earnings per share fell 8.6 per cent to 3.7 cents, with gains posted by units such as public transport services negated by taxi deterioration.

Looking ahead, directors expect revenue from the buses and trains to be higher, with full-year contribution from the bus contracting model and start of revenue on Downtown Line 3.

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