Listed firms post big fall in Q1 earnings

21% profit drop for SET, MAI companies; resources sector performs best

Five hundred and eleven companies listed in the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and the Market for Alternative Investment (MAI) saw their cumulative first-quarter net profit slump by 21 per cent compared with the same period last year.

These companies posted a combined net profit of Bt116.63 billion, a Bt30.91-billion year-on-year decline, the SET said in a statement yesterday. Listed companies' net profits are used as an indicator of the country's economic health, given that nearly all large players in their respective industries are on the SET.

The first-quarter profit slump comes amid worries that the government may run into difficulties in meeting its own revenue target for the year, amid lower private investment and consumer spending.

The 511 firms and property funds account for 96 per cent of the 535 listed on the bourse.

The statement said that 468 of the 491 companies listed on the SET had reported a combined net profit of Bt116.26 billion, down 21 per cent from the corresponding period last year.

PTT, Siam Cement, PTT Exploration and Production, Thai Oil and Bangkok Bank were the best performers in the quarter, while 107 companies plunged into a net loss.

The 468 companies' sales revenue was up 5 per cent year on year to Bt1.36 trillion.

"The lower year-on-year first-quarter earnings could be ascribed to a 7-per-cent increase in selling costs but a 5-per-cent increase in sales revenue. Average gross profit margin fell from 21 per cent in the same period last year to 20 per cent, while gains from foreign exchange slumped 55 per cent. The increase in lending rates earlier raised interest-rate expenses by 8 per cent on average. Besides, banks in the period set aside additional provision to comply with the International Accounting Standard 39," said SET president Patareeya Benjapholchai.

Companies with stocks listed on the SET 100 index had a combined net profit of Bt105.53 billion, falling 14 per cent from last year's first quarter. Their sales revenue rose 7 per cent, but selling costs jumped 10 per cent.

The resources sector had the highest overall net profit in the period. Its net profit increased 0.5 per cent year on year to Bt48.15 billion.

The financial sector was second, with net earnings of Bt23.28 billion - a 22-per-cent drop. Property and construction came in third, with a combined net profit of Bt16.98 billion, down 6 per cent from the same period last year.

The service sector was fourth, with a net profit of almost Bt15 billion, down 27 per cent.

Forty-three of the 44 companies listed in the MAI reported a combined net profit of Bt379 million, up 5 per cent year on year.
Sherwood Chemical, CI Group and Star Sanitaryware posted the largest net profits among MAI-listed firms.

Siriporn Chanjindamanee
The Nation