Metro Pacific core profit hits P3.7B in Q1

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By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

INFRASTRUCTURE conglomerate Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) delivered a three percent increase in core profit during the first quarter of 2019, supported by the growth of its energy, water, and hospital businesses amid the flat performance of its toll roads unit.

In a statement issued Thursday, the listed firm said core net income stood at P3.7 billion for the first three months of the year, higher than the P3.6 billion it posted in the same period a year ago. Operating revenues climbed 10% to P21.37 billion.

“We were flat in spite of an 8% increase in the operating income from the (subsidiaries)… In terms of operations, all of them did well but toll roads is the only one that stands out, it’s flat compared to last year,” MPIC President and Chief Executive Officer Jose Ma. K. Lim said in a press briefing in Makati on Thursday.

Mr. Lim noted that the toll roads business under Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC) incurred interest expenses due to the number of road projects it is funding.

“Until these new roads are able to contribute their share of income, the bottom line of toll roads will remain weakened by interest,” Mr. Lim said.

The power business accounted for bulk of MPIC’s operating income at 54% or P2.7 billion, followed by toll roads at 23% or P1.1 billion. The water unit contributed 18% or about P900 million; the hospital group booked P242 million or five percent of the operating income, while the rail, logistics and systems group delivered P7 million.

Manila Electric Company (Meralco) saw its core profit rise by 14% to P5.6 billion for the quarter, as revenues also went up by six percent to P75.4 billion. This was driven by increased energy sales alongside higher pass-through generation charges.

Meanwhile, Global Business Power Corp. revenues fell nine percent for the quarter, resulting to a net income of P398 million.

For toll roads, MPTC’s systemwide vehicle entries was flat at 929,015 a day, covering both its domestic and regional road networks. In the Philippines alone, average daily vehicle entries climbed eight percent to 510,510. Its toll roads in Bangkok and Indonesia declined by six percent to 418,505 due to construction and road integration within their concession areas.

West zone concessionaire Maynilad Water Services, Inc., which accounts for majority of MPIC’s water business, booked an eight percent increase in revenues to P5.7 billion following a two percent uptick in volume sold accompanied by the approval of tariff increases.

“Water benefited from tariff with 2.7% increase in 2018 and 5.7% increase for inflation this year,” Mr. Lim said.

For the hospital unit, aggregate revenues grew by 17% as outpatient visits also recorded a double-digit increase. Core income accordingly went up by 28%.

“Continuing strong demand for the services we provide, against a backdrop of steady economic growth, underpins our optimism for 2019,” MPIC Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said in a statement.

“Our focus over the medium term is to build out the many new infrastructure assets we are working on in order to deliver value to our shareholders and with this, to find suitable financing arrangements which will enhance profitability, earnings per share, and the Net Asset Value of MPIC.”

MPIC is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being PLDT, Inc. and Philex Mining Corp. Hastings Holdings, Inc. — a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc. — maintains interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

Shares in MPIC dropped 3.94% to 18 centavos to close at P4.39 each at the stock exchange on Thursday.