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Thai home builder Pruksa bullish on 2011

BANGKOK: Pruksa Real Estate Pcl, Thailand's second-largest property developer by market value, has ambitious plans for new projects this year and expects to boost both revenue and net profit by up to 36%.

The company is planning to launch 78 projects worth about 54 billion baht (RM5.5 billion) in 2011, focusing on detached houses and town houses, chief operating officer Prasert Taedullayasatit told Reuters.

"This year's earnings should grow strongly, possibly as much as revenue growth... We expect revenue to rise 35 or 36% and our profits should follow suit," Prasert said in a telephone interview late on Tuesday, Jan 4.

Revenue in 2011 should come to around 32 billion baht, he added. The company is due to report 2010 earnings by February.

Analysts expect 2011 revenue of 30.3 billion baht, up from 23.8 billion baht in 2010, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We aim to be number one in the industry in terms of presales and revenue this year for the third consecutive year," Prasert said. Presales — the value of sales made prior to the completion of developments — are widely used to gauge the performance of developers.

Pruksa, the market leader for cheaper housing with an average price of 1.9 million baht per unit, is aiming for 2011 presales of 42 billion baht, up from the 39 billion baht expected for 2010.

"Although construction costs have risen by 1%-3%, we still want to peg selling prices as long as we can because fierce competition and rising interest rates may reduce housing demand," Prasert said.

Some analysts expect demand for property to continue to grow along with the economy this year, even if consumption in general slows as interest rates rise. Developers in the middle-to-low end of the market should benefit from the development of mass transit systems in Bangkok.

At 0435 GMT, Pruksa shares were up 1.1% at 18.40 baht, while the main Thai index was up 0.9%.

Shares in Pruksa, valued at about US$1.33 billion (RM4.07 billion) on the bourse, are trading at 10.8 times estimated 2011 earnings. They climbed 4.0% in 2010, outperforming the 2.4% rise in top builder Land and Houses.

However, the rise was far below the 40.6% jump in the main market index after the Bank of Thailand imposed restrictions on loans to home buyers in a bid to prevent a property bubble, which hit Pruksa stock in November.

Pruksa plans to spend 10 billion baht-12 billion baht this year on purchasing land, including some in the provinces beyond Bangkok, including Chonburi and Khon Kaen.

"Our new business model — seeking new markets in provincial and overseas areas — will help generate more revenue," Prasert said.

He said the company planned developments in Vietnam and India, and that revenue from foreign markets should generate about two billion baht this year, 6% of total sales. The company already has projects in the Maldives and Bangalore, India.

Detached houses and town houses currently account for 70%-80% of its portfolio and the rest is condominiums, Prasert said, expecting to maintain that proportion this year. — Reuters
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