Singapore’s third biggest conglomerate, Fraser & Neave Ltd (F&N), reported a 38% jump in full-year profit yesterday, propelled by higher sales of property and soft drinks, and strong Asian demand for its beer.
For its financial year to Sept 30, the 120-year-old group chalked up a net profit of S$333mil, compared with S$241mil the prior year, on 4.5% higher revenue of S$3.6bil.
Besides higher sales, the profit figure was also boosted by a S$60mil one-off gain, partly from the sale of the group's 1% stake in OCBC Bank, Singapore's third biggest lender.
And the group expects its core earnings to improve further in 2004.
F&N is one of Singapore’s best performing stocks this year, with its share price up 50% since January, outpacing the key Straits Times Index’s 30% gain over the same period. The counter closed at S$11.90 yesterday, down 10 cents, ahead of the results announcement.
F&N’s crown jewel is its 37.9% stake in Asia-Pacific Breweries Ltd (APB), maker of Singapore’s famous Tiger beer, through a joint venture with Heineken NV, which owns 42.5% of the brewery.
APB, with 14 breweries in eight countries, registered a net profit of S$94.14mil for the year, up 10.9% on S$84.90mil previously.
In addition to selling popular soft drinks such as Coca-Cola, Sprite and 100-Plus, F&N is one of Singapore’s top property developers with seven shopping malls in the city-state, pitting it against City Developments Ltd and CapitaLand Ltd.
The property division generated about half the group's profit, including a shopping mall sale, followed by breweries’ one-third, with the rest from soft drinks, publishing and printing.
F&N has proposed a final dividend of 30 Singapore cents per share, bringing the year's total payout to 50 cents. – Reuters