By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

CEBU Landmasters, Inc. (CLI) is leveling its budget for capital expenditures (capex) this year with last year’s P10 billion spending as it tempers aggressiveness for land acquisition.

In an online briefing on Wednesday, CLI Chairman and Chief Executive Jose R. Soberano III said the company is focusing on rolling out 12 more projects in the second half of the year, which would raise its 2020 launches to a total of 14 projects.

This pipeline would add P19.4 billion worth of projects to the company’s inventory, which is currently down to around P10 billion.

“Because of these 14 projects that we have laid down for 2020, including the two that we have launched already and the 12 that we are definitely launching by the second half, we could see (our capex this year) around (the same range as last year’s P10 billion),” Mr. Soberano said.

“There’s going to be not much but there’s still going to be a significant amount that we will have to expense in terms of capex. Why is it going to be just about the (same) number? Because mainly there is going to be not much aggressive acquisition to be expected for the remaining months,” he added.

Mr. Soberano said CLI has “enough on its plate,” as it has 108 hectares of property in its landbank which it would use for new developments that will be rolled out in the next three to four years.

The company currently has 40 ongoing projects in various stages of development and about 27 projects in the pipeline based on the properties it has acquired.

“With the inventory that we have lined up for projects mainly for the residential market in 2020, particularly the second half launches, and even those landbank that we have already acquired to serve the mixed-use and hospitality project lines, there is no need for Cebu Landmasters to do some major acquisitions this year,” Mr. Soberano told stockholders in an online meeting.

CLI booked an attributable net income of P572.23 million in the first quarter, lower by 4% from a year ago, as its costs and expenses grew faster than the 13% rise in revenues to P2.11 billion.

The company is projecting its bottomline this year to be plus or minus 10% of the P2.01 billion it recorded in 2019. Mr. Soberano said this is a “very guarded optimistic posturing,” noting support may come from a private equity play that CLI is currently exploring.

“We…are already negotiating with some private equity investors, or even listed companies who have approached us, on what possibilities that we could have in the coming months, which equity play we hope to be able to realize within the second half of 2020,” he said.

Amid the economic decline due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, CLI remains hopeful that demand for its projects will be sustained because of the housing backlog in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

“Even with the slowdown, there is a strong demand for housing, especially in VisMin,” Mr. Soberano said. “There might be readings that things will turn cold, especially from the OFW (overseas Filipino workers) market, but yet we in Cebu Landmasters are able to still generate interest from buyers.”

Mr. Soberano credits the company’s digitalization infrastructure for its sustained operations during the lockdown period, during which time it was able to record P2 billion worth of reservation sales.

Shares in CLI at the stock exchange gained 15 centavos or 4.11% to P3.80 each on Wednesday.