PERUSAHAAN Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton) has reported a lower pre-tax profit of RM1.36bil for the financial year ended March 31 compared with RM1.51bil previously.
Revenue was also lower at RM9.3bil, compared with RM10.3bil a year ago.
Net profit, however, rose to RM1.14bil from RM1.12bil in the previous period, ahead of a market consensus of RM954mil.
An analyst from Mayban Securities said the results came in slightly above her earnings estimate of RM1bil, while Hilmi Mokhtar from OSK Research Investment said he had projected a net profit of RM938mil.
According to an analyst with a bank-backed research house, the higher net profit was due to a lower effective tax rate, as well as research and development expenditure being lower than expected.
For the fourth quarter ended March, Proton's net profit fell to RM307.2mil from RM361mil the corresponding period a year ago. Revenue dropped to RM2bil from RM2.6bil previously.
The analyst from Mayban said the national carmaker's fourth quarter results were within expectations based on lower sales of cars in that period. Proton sales had fallen by 9.9% from 239,783 units last year to 216,083 in the year just ended.
The stock, she added, was trading at a very cheap'' valuation of about six times price earnings ratio based on her estimate for financial year 2004.
In notes accompanying the results, Proton said pre-tax profits at company level rose to RM934.9mil for the year mainly due to lower provisions, a more favourable yen exchange rate and component costs reduction.
Looking ahead, the group expects consumer sentiment to remain weak due to the current global uncertainties, which would impact on car sales.
The management has recommended a final tax-exempt dividend of 12 sen per share. The group paid an interim tax-exempt dividend of 8 sen in January.