EcoFirst 2Q profit jumps on land sale; CEO upbeat on property market recovery

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 30): EcoFirst Consolidated Bhd saw its net profit for the second quarter ended Nov 30, 2017 (2QFY18) lifted by over five times to RM27.52 million from RM5.23 million a year ago.

EcoFirst, in a bourse filing, attributed the jump to higher contribution from its property development division in Selangor and Perak, together with a land sale worth RM28.4 million in the quarter. Quarterly earnings per share jumped to 3.43 sen, from 0.65 sen in 2QFY17.

Quarterly revenue more than tripled to RM40.43 million from RM12.07 million previously, mainly from two property development projects — Liberty @Ampang Ukay and Upper East @Tiger Lane, Ipoh.

The property development division contributed RM3.6 million (after finance cost) to the group's profit before tax.

"We have made substantial progress on Ampang Ukay and we're seeing positive results driven by strong demand for Liberty @Ampang Ukay, which is almost 90% sold," said EcoFirst group chief executive officer Datuk Tiong Kwing Hee in a separate statement.

EcoFirst's 1HFY18 net profit rose almost five-fold to RM31.12 million, from RM6.56 million in 1HFY17, while revenue nearly tripled to RM85.22 million from RM29.61 million.

Moving on, Tiong expressed optimism on the recovery of the property market, on expectations that it will ride on the improving Malaysian economy this year.

"Furthermore, with the various schemes introduced by the government to help first-time homebuyers, we believe demand for homes priced below RM1 million is still strong and many homeowners are looking to buy into strategically located areas with better connectivity, such as Ampang Ukay," added Tiong.

The group expects sales of the remaining units in Upper East to continue, said EcoFirst, while phase two of the Ampang Ukay project is set to launch in 4QFY18, he said.

"We're confident Ampang Ukay will continue contributing positively to our financials with increase in billings and additional sales for each phase launch over the next 12 to 15 years. With a GDV of more than RM5 billion, Ampang Ukay will be main driver for EcoFirst's growth over the medium to long term," he added.

Meanwhile, its property investment arm will continue to see rental income from the South City Plaza in Sri Kembangan, whereas the 1Segamat Shopping Centre stopped contribution in September 2017, following the completion of its disposal.

Shares of EcoFirst traded unchanged at 29 sen today, giving it a market capitalisation of RM232.92 million. —

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