By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-editor
PHOENIX Petroleum Philippines, Inc. said it expected to hit its P1.5-billion income target for 2018, with its new businesses driving growth and continuing to do so in 2019, the company’s finance chief said.
“I know that we’ll be able to hit our target — we’re tied on P1.5 [billion],” said Ma. Concepcion F. De Claro, Phoenix Petroleum chief finance officer, in an interview late last month.
In 2017, the Davao City-based independent oil company posted record sales volume, revenues and net income as its investments through the years started bringing in returns, it previously told the stock exchange.
Net income hit P1.79 billion in 2017, up 65% from the level a year earlier, with the partial consolidation of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) business starting in August 2017.
“We’re already P1 billion as of September  — P1.1 billion,” Ms. De Claro said.
“We think we’ll be able to hit it [P1.5 billion]. We were hoping that it would surpass significantly our target but since crude prices have been going down the last couple of months since September it’s actually going to eat up on our margins,” she added.
Ms. De Claro said the biggest driver of company’s growth is its Singapore office PNX Petroleum Singapore Pte Ltd., which was set up in September 2017 as the group’s trading and supply office.
In October 2018, PNX Energy International Holdings Pte Ltd. was also created to manage the group’s international investments, including expansion of related business activities and operations in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The contribution of our Singapore office… net income-wise [as of] September was about P200 million, that’s about a little less than 10%,” she said.
“We started operations lang December, but medyo nag-full blast this January. And then the LPG also because that’s also new,” she added.
For 2019, Phoenix Petroleum plans to expand the Singapore trading business, Ms. De Claro said.
“We’d like to expand it, but currently what we’re doing is also expanding, getting more lines kasi (because) we’d like to be able to sell more to third parties, not only Phoenix Singapore addressing the requirements of Phoenix Philippines,” she said.
“But we’re limited by the lines — our credit lines,” she said. “So with that, if we are able to get more lines then we can expand the business. If we double the lines from last year, it would be able to double the contribution, but of course that’s considering that crude prices are stable — no abrupt change to the price,” she said.
Liquid fuels remain the company’s main business, with sales from diesel, gasoline, bunker fuel, lubes and aviation fuel accounting for the biggest share of the company’s revenues.
“That was before. Then we expanded in 2017 [we acquired] LPG… Now we have the trading, which is in Singapore, and then we’re going to have the asphalt and the bitumen, and then the last one is LNG (liquefied natural gas). But outside of that we have the convenience retailing,” she said.
In January 2018, Phoenix completed the purchase of the Family Mart convenience store brand, which had 67 outlets in Luzon at that time.
Ms. De Claro said liquid fuels remained the biggest contributor for 2018 and possibly beyond, although sales volumes for the other businesses are also expected to expand.
“It’s going to be same [in 2019],” she said, adding that the total would just expand for the various business segments.
However, the convenience stores, now numbering 71, have yet to contribute “significantly” to the group.
“We’re still trying to fix up a lot of things,” she said, adding that what Phoenix Petroleum is targeting for the Family Mart business is to be “cash positive.”
Ms. De Claro said Family Mart is still expected to incur some loss, but she hopes it would generate a profit in 2019.
“If we can get, say, a 2%-3% [growth in] revenues then that should be fine with us… Probably if we can hit mga P50 [million] to P100 million that’s already substantial [for] our Family Mart but insignificant as far as the contribution to the bottomline,” she said.