Published November 13, 2009

Ho Bee posts record 9-month profit


HO BEE Investment posted a strong increase in third-quarter net earnings, lifting its top and bottom lines for the first nine months past the record showing for full year 2007.

Net profit for the quarter ended Sept 30 rose to $99.3 million from $18.7 million for Q3 last year. Revenue swelled from $52.5 million to $209.2 million, largely as a result of a big chunk of income booked for the Orange Grove Residences project, which was completed in July.

Ho Bee's first nine months net profit jumped from $81.8 million to $293.9 million. Revenue quadrupled from $263.5 million to $1.06 billion. The numbers surpass the full-year 2007 net earnings of about $272 million and revenue of $596 million.

The strong report-card for the first nine months was achieved despite the fact that Ho Bee booked some $110 million of writedowns in Q2 this year for fair-value changes of investment and development properties.

'The group's revenue and earnings for the next quarter will remain positive,' said Ho Bee chairman and CEO Chua Thian Poh.

Besides Orange Grove Residences, other projects that contributed to the group's performance in the Jan to Sept period include Vertis in the Amber Road area, Quinterra at Holland Road, and The Coast condo and Paradise Island villas at Sentosa Cove. Ho Bee sold the last of 29 villas at Paradise Island in August for $22 million. All five projects received Temporary Occupation Permit in the first nine months of this year. That's when developers book a chunk of earnings from units sold in residential property developments.

Collections from buyers from these projects boosted Ho Bee's coffers. It enjoyed a whopping $896 million net cashflow from operating activities in the first nine months of 2009. This enabled it to repay nearly $700 million of borrowings this year, trimming group borrowings from about $1.15 billion at end-2008 to $457 million at end-Sept 2009. Cash and cash equivalents stood at $161.6 million at end-Sept 2009, up from $45.1 million at end-2008. Net gearing fell to a low of 0.26 times at end-Sept 2009 from 1.26 times at end-2008.

Ho Bee's net asset value per share appreciated from $1.20 at end-2008 to $1.56 at end-Sept 2009. On the stockmarket yesterday, the counter ended three cents higher at $1.40.

Ho Bee has released two projects in the current quarter - Trilight at Newton Road and Parvis at Holland Hill. The latter is a joint project with MCL Land. So far, 61 Trilight units have been sold since its launch in October and 55 units sold at Parvis, which was released this month.

Next year, Ho Bee is expected to launch a 151-unit condo project at Sentosa Cove named Seascape. The group has another project - a 304-unit condo - in the upscale waterfront housing area which it's developing on the Pinnacle Collection site. This could possibly be released late next year. Ho Bee is developing both projects jointly with Malaysia's IOI group.