Centurion first-quarter net profit falls 58% (The Straits Times)

MAINBOARD-LISTED Centurion yesterday announced that its net profit for the first quarter fell 58 per cent to $9.4 million.

It reported a profit of $22.6 million in the same period last year, which included a one-off gain of $17.3 million from the sale of industrial factory units.

Revenue for the three months to March 31 increased 44 per cent to $25.3 million, mainly driven by its accommodation business, which saw a 56 per cent or $8.5 million rise in turnover.

Successful expansion last year into the student accommodation business in Australia in February, and in Britain in September accounted for 64 per cent, or about $5.5 million, of revenue growth, the company said.

Centurion said the strong contribution of the new student accommodation assets signifies the success of its strategy to expand its earnings base beyond the workers’ accommodation business.

Net profit from its core business operations jumped 66 per cent to $9.2 million in the first quarter.

Finance costs increased by $1.8 million, mainly due to additional interest costs incurred for the financing of the newly acquired student accommodation portfolio in Britain, as well as the bank facility fee incurred in financing the development of the Aspri-Westlite Papan dormitory.

Centurion said the outlook for its accommodation business remains positive, supported by stable demand for both its workers’ and student accommodation in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and Britain.

With Westlite Tampoi in Malaysia having started operations in January, and the expected completion of Westlite Woodlands with 4,100 beds in the third quarter, Centurion said it is on track to achieve continued growth in its core business this year.

It will also “selectively explore opportunities in both existing and new markets to further grow its accommodation business”, the company said.

Separately, Centurion announced yesterday steps “to strengthen its board with new expertise and greater independence”.

Mr David Loh Kim Kang and Mr Han Seng Juan will join Centurion’s board as non-executive directors.

Mr Loh and Mr Han are the group’s controlling shareholders and hold an aggregate 55.34 per cent stake in the company.

At the same time, Centurion chief executive Kong Chee Min and Mr Tony Bin, executive director of the group’s accommodation business, will step down from the board. They will remain part of the executive management team.

Centurion said the changes are aimed at separating the management from the board, which will now comprise three non-executive directors and two independent directors.

ann@sph.com.sg