Tuesday, March 26th, 2019


Astro posts RM118.4m Q4 net profit, declares 9 sen dividend

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the fourth quarter ended Jan 31 decreased 35% to RM118.4 million from RM181.79 million a year ago mainly due to higher net finance costs.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group attributed the higher net finance costs to unfavourable unrealised forex movement arising from unhedged finance lease liabilities and vendor financing, and a decrease in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

Revenue for the current quarter of RM1.3 billion was lower by 1.5% against corresponding quarter of RM1.39 billion, mainly due to a decrease in subscription revenue because of lower package take-up.

For the full year period, Astro’s net profit fell 40% to RM462.92 million from RM770.64 million a year ago resulting from higher sports content cost, one-off employee separation scheme costs and unrealised forex losses on finance lease liabilities.

Revenue for the year of RM5.48 billion was marginally lower against corresponding year of RM5.53 billion mainly due to a decrease in subscription and advertising revenue.

The decrease in subscription revenue was mainly due to lower package take-up and the decrease in advertising revenue was due to a slowing advertising market.

It declared a fourth interim dividend of 1.5 sen per share in respect of the financial year ending Jan 31 (FY19), while total dividend declared for FY19 is 9 sen.

Astro chairman Tun Zaki Azmi said in a competitive media landscape, Astro continues to be cash generative, cost disciplined and proactive in its capital management.

Astro CEO Henry Tan said given the challenging operating environment, Astro is reviewing its business so that it remains efficient and agile to serve its customers better.

“Our focus will remain on serving our 5.7 million Malaysian homes and 23 million individuals via our Pay TV and NJOI platforms with differentiated and compelling content. By leveraging on our customer base and our ability to reach and engage on television, radio and digital platforms, revenue adjacencies such as commerce, adex, content licensing and theatrical sales are showing promising growth trajectory,” he said.

Astro anticipates FY20 to be a challenging year and aims to strengthen its customer value proposition via initiatives such as broadband bundles, seamless viewing across all screens, better customer service and deeper engagement with fans.

Pound rebounds above US$1.32 on Brexit deal hopes

LONDON, March 26 — Sterling rallied above US$1.32 today on fresh hope that British Prime Minister Theresa May would avoid a chaotic no-deal Brexit, while global stock markets recovered. The pound jumped as high as US$1.3262 in London morning…

OxyContin maker Purdue agrees to settle Oklahoma opioid case, source says

NEW YORK, March 26 — Purdue Pharma LP has agreed to settle a lawsuit by the state of Oklahoma accusing the maker of painkiller OxyContin of helping fuel an opioid abuse epidemic, a person familiar with the matter said today. The settlement is…

Astro posts FY19 revenue of RM5.5b

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad posted results for the financial year which ended on January 31, indicating its revenue remains stable at RM5.5 billion. The results also indicated its commerce revenue growing in the double…

Analysts slash earnings forecasts for Sapura Energy

PETALING JAYA: Research houses have slashed their earnings forecasts for Sapura Energy Bhd with the anticipation of slower engineering and construction (E&C) contribution going forward, despite posting headline net profit in financial year ended Jan 31 (FY19).

Analysts said despite returning to the black, the group’s FY19 results missed expectations as its core net loss of RM945 million came in wider than its FY19 loss projections due to weaker-than-expected E&C and drilling contribution.

In a note today, Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research said it has cut its FY20 earnings forecast by 37% to RM78.7 million after accounting for weaker E&C contribution.

PublicInvest Research said although the group is currently in positive transition towards improving its numbers, the research firm believes that the recovery process is likely to be slower-than-expected, hence its earnings forecasts have been trimmed by an average of 67% for FY20-21.

Meanwhile, Kenanga Research said it cut its FY20 earnings by 80% after adjusting finance costs assumptions given Sapura’s borrowings payments schedule, while realigning its E&C order-book recognition and margins assumption.

However, HLIB Research has adjusted upwards its FY21 earnings by 3% to RM303.7 million subsequent to lower depreciation post impairment.

“We believe Sapura should be recording better sequential quarterly results and turnaround in the second half of FY20 due to pick up in E&C contribution, and interest savings after paring down its debt. FY21 growth should be largely coming from SK408 gas field’s maiden contribution,” HLIB Research added.

PublicInvest Research said its target price is subsequently lowered to 43 sen but its “outperform” rating on the group has been retained on the back of its improving outlook.

“We also expect FY22 to be much stronger with net earnings of close RM200 million backed by its solid orderbook in hand of RM17.2 billion and potential new jobs win from its active tenderbook of circa RM45.1 billion as well as improved contribution from E&P segment,” it added.

Kenanga Research also maintain its “outperform” rating with a higher target price of 43 sen.

Meanwhile, HLIB Research kept its “buy” call on the stock with higher target price of 43 sen pegged to higher 0.6 times FY20 price-to-book ratio on lower uncertainty to its book value subsequent to its kitchen sinking activities in end-FY19.

Astro FY19 net profit falls to RM462.92m

KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the financial year ended Jan 31, 2019 (FY19) fell to RM462.92 million from RM770.64 million in FY18. Revenue eased to RM5.48 billion versus RM5.53 billion posted in the…

Disorderly Brexit to hit Irish jobs, says think tank

DUBLIN, March 26 — Irish employment would be 3.4 per cent lower if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal than it would be if its neighbour remained in the bloc, a study showed today, presenting a more severe outcome than previous…

Watsons Malaysia opens 500th store in Shah Alam

SHAH ALAM: Hong Kong-headquartered healthcare and beauty retailer AS Watson Group today opened its worldwide 15,000th store at newly-launched Central i-City in Shah Alam, marking a landmark step for Watsons in Malaysia with its 500th store in the country.

“Since 1994, we opened our first Watsons Malaysia store in Johor. Within 25 years, we have grown to 500 stores and with more than five million members in Malaysia,” Watsons Malaysia managing director Caryn Loh (pix) said at the store launching ceremony here today.

She said the new store incorporates an innovative and sustainable design based on the latest premium concept that blends environmentally-friendly materials and innovative technologies to promote digital customer engagements.

“Customers today are demanding shopping experiences that are both convenient and hassle-free. We aim to reinforce our position as Malaysia’s leading health and beauty retailer by not only offering a diverse array of products, but to also help our customers with a seamless, unmatched shopping experience at our stores,” she said.

Watsons currently operates over 7,200 stores and more than 1,500 pharmacies in 13 Asian and European markets, including Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Taiwan as well as Russia.

Established in Hong Kong in 1841, AS Watson is the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer operating 15,000 stores under 12 retail brands in 25 markets, with over 140,000 employees worldwide.

For the fiscal year 2018, the group recorded revenue of US$21.5 billion.

French budget deficit sinks to 12-year low

PARIS, March 26 — France’s budget deficit fell to a 12-year low of 2.5 per cent in 2018, a greater-than-expected decline achieved despite falling growth and purchasing power, national statistics agency Insee said today. The deficit was lower…

Sapura Aerospace Technologies to build RM100m hi-tech facility

LANGKAWI, March 26 — Sapura Aerospace Technologies, a joint venture between Sapura Industrial Bhd and two Japanese aerospace companies, will be investing RM100 million over the next five years to build a high-technology facility on a 2.02-hectare…