Published May 14, 2008

HPL's Q1 profit jumps 76.2% to $20.5m


HOTEL Properties Ltd (HPL), controlled by businessman Ong Beng Seng, yesterday posted a 76.2 per cent year-on-year increase in first-quarter group net earnings to $20.5 million.

Revenue rose 40.6 per cent to $146.1 million. The group said its hotels and resorts in Singapore, Maldives and Bali have generally made significant improvements in room rates as well as occupancy. Contributions from the property division also increased due to higher profits recognised for the group's condo development in Bangkok, The Met, as well as higher rental income from the group's investment properties, in tandem with the higher prevailing rental rates.

The group owns the Hilton and Four Seasons hotels, Forum and HPL House in Singapore's Orchard Road area.

During the quarter ended March 31, 2008, the group made further contribution for its 22.5 per cent share of the remaining acquisition cost for the Farrer Court site, resulting in an increase in the group's investment in associates and a corresponding increase in borrowings. Interest expense, however, remained constant due to lower prevailing interest rates.

The group's cash and bank balances fell from $123.5 million as at Dec 31, 2007 to $95.3 million as at March 31, 2008.

Earnings per share rose from 2.43 cents (restated) for Q1 2007 to 4.07 cents for Q1 2008. Group net asset value per share rose marginally from $2.40 as at end-2007 to $2.43 as at March 31 this year. On the stock market yesterday, HPL closed four cents higher at $2.89.

HPL yesterday also announced the appointment of Stephen Lau as executive director. Mr Lau, 53, is currently head of the group's hotel division.

The group is slated to complete later this year its fourth property in Maldives and the second managed by its hotel management arm, HPL Hotels & Resorts, according to information in HPL's 2007 annual report.

Following the success of Hard Rock Hotel in Bali and Pattaya, the group is developing a Hard Rock Hotel in Penang.