Business

ComfortDelGro posts 4.9% drop in net earnings

Transport giant ComfortDelGro posted a 4.9 per cent drop in net earnings to $301.5 million for the year ended Dec 31, 2017.

With its taxi division continuing to take a beating from private-hire players, stiff competition in its overseas markets and foreign exchange losses, group revenue shrank by 2.2 per cent to $3.97 billion.

Total operating expenses rose by 1 per cent to $3.56 billion, with staff cost climbing by 2.6 per cent or $37.2 million because of additional people hired for Downtown Line 3.

The Singapore-listed group posted a 0.4 per cent rise in operating profit for its bus and train division but all other units reported lower earnings.

Taxi operating profit fell by 19.3 per cent to $135.1 million, automotive engineering slipped 33.1 per cent to $33.9 million, and its inspection unit shrank by 6.3 per cent to $32.6 million on weaker performance in its Setsco testing division.

ComfortDelGro's earnings per share dipped to 13.95 cents, down from 14.72. Its net asset value per share stood at 121.01 cents, up from 114.77.

ComfortDelGro group chief executive Yang Ban Seng called last year "challenging". He said the alliance with Uber - which has yet to be approved by the Competition Commission- should "widen the revenue base for our driver partners".

He said about 5 per cent of the taxi fleet is unhired. The fleet has shrunk by more than 20 per cent to 13,200 since 2014, and it would not be buying any more taxis for the 2018 financial year.

Directors are recommending a final dividend of 6.05 cents a share.

BUSINESS & FINANCE