Hutchison H1 profit up over 600 percent, lags forecasts

By @ibtimes on

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd <0013.HK>, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's flagship ports-to-telecommunications company, posted a 632 percent rise in first-half net profit, helped by hefty one-off gain from the spin-off of its port assets, but lagging market forecasts.

Stronger performances of its energy, retail, infrastructure and 3G businesses also combined to drive earnings up, analysts said.

With core businesses performing well and generating cash, a stronger balance sheet and liquidity, the group is well positioned for continued growth and will continue to invest and expand its core businesses, Chairman Li Ka-shing said.

The group's diversified portfolio of businesses worldwide will continue to perform favorably. I remain confident in the group's outlook and development in the second half of 2011, he said in a statement.

Hutchison, whose businesses include telecommunications operator 3 Group and Watsons retail stores, reported a net profit of HK$46.3 billion ($5.95 billion), including a one-off gain of HK$44.3 billion for the first half.

That compared with net profit of HK$6.32 billion for the first half of 2010 but lagged an average forecast of HK$51.2 billion from 10 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

Hutchison said it booked an exceptional gain of HK$44.29 billion in the first half from the Singapore initial public offering of its southern China ports assets -- Hutchison Port Holdings Trust .

Hutchison declared an interim dividend of HK$0.55 per share, up from an interim dividend of HK$0.51 per share that it has been distributing since 2000.

Property developer Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd <0001.HK>, which holds a controlling stake in Hutchison, posted a 169 percent rise in first-half profit to HK$33.26 billion, just beating an average forecast of HK$31.2 billion.

Hutchison's third-generation (3G) telecommunications business, which had been losing money over the past decade but broke even in the second half of 2010, recovered further this year. Analysts said it was expected to contribute to the conglomerate's profits from 2011.

The 3G business generated an EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) of HK$767 million during the first half against an LBIT (loss before interest and tax) of HK$2 billion a year earlier.

Hutchison's telecoms business 3 Group includes 3G network operations in Britain, Italy and Australia, among other countries.

It competes with Britain's biggest mobile operator, Everything Everywhere -- a joint venture of France Telecom SA's Orange and Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile. It also competes with Telefonica SA's O2 and Vodafone Group Plc .

Hutchison shares finished down 0.88 percent on Thursday ahead of the results, compared with a 0.49 percent fall in the Hang Seng Index <.HSI>. Cheung Kong eased 0.08 percent.

(Editing by Charlie Zhu and Chris Lewis)

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