The transport giant's taxi fleet in the Republic has shrunk to around 11,000 - its lowest in almost 20 years - since ride-hailing firms entered the market.
ComfortDelGro's earnings in Q3 down by 10.8% ComfortDelGro posted an operating profit of $27.4 million for the quarter, down from $33.5 million previously. PHOTO: ST FILE

A still deflating taxi business in Singapore pulled ComfortDelGro's net earnings down by 10.8% to $70 million for the third quarter ended 30 September. 

The transport giant's taxi fleet in the Republic has shrunk to around 11,000 - its lowest in almost 20 years - since ride-hailing firms entered the market six years ago. Lower investment income also had an impact on the bottom line.

Group revenue rose by 1.1% to $979 million, while operating cost inched upwards by 1.8% to $870.1 million, with the highest increase coming from depreciation, which grew by 13.3% to $104.8 million.

Earnings per share stood at $0.0323 for the three-month period, down from $0.0363 during the same period last year. Net asset value per share was $1.163, down from $1.207. ComfortDelGro's margin before tax, interest and depreciation was slightly wider at 21.8%, up from 21.3%.

Chief Executive Yang Ban Seng said, "The global economic and political environment has weakened further in the last few months, and this has weighed on our businesses, which continue to face intense competition. Despite the significant challenges, we have managed to grow our top line, with stronger contributions from our overseas businesses."

He said the group's Australian operations have performed well, and the bus and rail units continued to gain strength. "We will continue to look out for investment opportunities and build on our strengths in the mobility sphere," the CEO added.

Segmentally, the taxi business posted an operating profit of $27.4 million for the quarter, down from $33.5 million previously. Further decline is expected as the fleet shrinks amid continued competition from ride-hailing firms.

Buoyed by growing ridership and higher fares, the bus and rail business posted an operating profit of $59.4 million, up from $57.7 million. Subsidiary SBS Transit reported a 1.5% rise in net profit to $20 million for the third quarter, while revenue was 3.6% higher at $364 million. The group expects bus revenue to rise in the coming quarters, with full-year contributions from the Seletar and Bukit Merah route packages. Higher rail revenue is expected with the 4.3% fare increase from last year and the 7% fare hike taking effect from 28 December this year.

ComfortDelGro reported a net cash outflow of $34.7 million for the quarter, and short-term deposits and bank balances of $518.5 million. After accounting for borrowings of $633.8 million, it had a net debt position of $115.3 million, representing a net gearing ratio of 3.9% compared with a net cash position of $16.2 million as of 31 December last year.