Revenue from public transport division grows by 11.6%; slide in turnover for taxi operations slows
ComfortDelGro's Q1 profit up 6.2% ComfortDelGro said bookings for its taxi business are holding steady. LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

Powered by contributions from new acquisitions, transport giant ComfortDelGro posted a 6.2 per cent increase in first-quarter earnings to $70.4 million for the period ended March 31.

The Singapore-listed group - which has operations in China, Australia and Britain - saw revenue rise by 7.8 per cent to $947.3 million for the first three months.

Operating expenses crept up by 7.3 per cent to $839.9 million, reined in by lower premises costs.

Earnings per share grew from 3.06 cents to 3.25 cents, while net asset value per share stood at 123.56 cents, up from 120.7 cents as of Dec 31 last year.

Compared with the previous corresponding quarter, the margin for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation inched up from 22 per cent to 22.5 per cent.

The group said yesterday that revenue from its public transport division grew by 11.6 per cent to $684.9 million, driven mainly by contributions from new acquisitions in Australia and Britain, higher fees earned for its government bus contracts, and higher ridership and fares from its rail services here.

Its automotive engineering and driving centre businesses also fared better, though its taxi and overseas bus station business did not.

Looking ahead, directors expect this trend to continue.

Group chief executive Yang Ban Seng said: "The acquisitions we made in the last year have started to reap returns, and we expect that they will continue to do so.

"We will continue to grow our core businesses, look at investment opportunities and explore new areas for growth, particularly in those that leverage technology."

On its taxi operations, the group said the slide in revenue has slowed down, with bookings holding steady. It said it will continue converting older diesel taxis, which have relatively high certificate of entitlement premiums, to new petrol-electric hybrid models. This will result in tax and depreciation savings.

It also implemented a voluntary profit-sharing scheme and launched a dynamic fare pricing scheme to better match demand and supply.

ComfortDelGro's financial position remained strong. Total assets grew by $234 million to $5.37 billion. Total liabilities in turn rose by $167.2 million to $2.28 billion.

The group recorded a net cash inflow of $37 million for the quarter. As of March 31, it had short-term deposits and bank balances of $623.1 million. After borrowings of $597.1 million, it had a net cash position of $26 million. Its gross gearing ratio was 19.3 per cent, up from 18.8 per cent as of Dec 31 last year.