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SIA shares soar to more than 3-year high following record annual profit

Singapore Airlines on Tuesday reported a record annual profit of S$2.16 billion (US$1.63 billion), reversing three straight years of losses. 

SIA shares soar to more than 3-year high following record annual profit

FILE PHOTO: A flight crew passes a Singapore Airlines logo at Singapore's Changi Airport January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE: Shares of Singapore Airlines (SIA) soared to their highest levels in more than three years on Wednesday (May 17), as the national carrier emerged from the woes of the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver a record annual profit.

The stock rose as high as S$6.08 in early trade before giving up some gains to finish at S$6.01, up 1.52 per cent or S$0.09 for the day. This marks the counter's highest level since February 2020.

After the market closed on Tuesday, SIA reported a net profit of S$2.16 billion (US$1.63 billion) for the year ended Mar 31, rebounding from a loss of S$962 million a year earlier.

The upbeat earnings results – a record in its 76-year history – also reversed three straight years of losses brought about by the pandemic.

Strong demand for air travel following the reopening of borders drove revenue, operating profit and passenger load factor, the airline said in its media release.

Group passenger capacity reached 79 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels at the end of March, with SIA and Scoot carrying a total of 26.5 million passengers, six times more than the year before.

The passenger load factor, which measures how well airlines are filling available seats, also rose by 55.3 percentage points to 85.4 per cent - the highest in the company's history.

SIA said that demand for air travel will remain robust moving forward, underpinned by the recovery in air travel in East Asia. Forward sales also remain healthy across all cabin classes, led by a strong pickup in bookings to China, Japan and South Korea.

The reopening of China, in particular, will help to accelerate SIA’s recovery, with passenger volumes set to return to 2019 levels in the second quarter of FY2024, said DBS Research.

“(We) hold the view that passenger yields should remain at elevated levels for some time (albeit moderating) on the back of revenge travel and measured capacity growth by competitors,” the analysts wrote in a note.

This means that the airline may continue to outperform in earnings, DBS said, adding that fears over the impact of a recession may be overblown. 

“We continue to have above-consensus earnings projections, and believe that SIA will continue to deliver positive surprises in the near term,” the analysts said.

That said, the airline faces some risks moving forward.

Airlines have been racing to resume capacity and the resulting price competition could see SIA’s passenger yields moderating further in the years ahead, said CGS-CIMB analyst Raymond Yap.

Cargo demand is also set to slow down further.

SIA, in its latest earnings report, said performance for its cargo segment moderated from a year ago. Yields were also weaker, although revenue remained 83 per cent above pre-pandemic levels.

The airline sees cargo demand remaining soft given macroeconomic headwinds and a recalibration of inventory levels to post-pandemic conditions.

The airline also faces the risk of persistent cost pressures stemming from inflation, analysts said.

Alongside the results, SIA’s board recommended a final dividend of S$0.28 per share. Including the interim dividend of S$0.10 per share, the total dividend payout for the fiscal year stands at S$0.38 per share.

The final dividend is subject to shareholder approval at the upcoming annual general meeting on Jul 27 and will be paid out to shareholders on Aug 18.

DBS, in its research note, said the “generous” final dividend per share, which translates into a payout ratio of 52 per cent, “greatly exceeded” its expectations and “should enhance investor sentiment on the stock”.

Echoing that, Mr Yap said: “We expect SIA’s strong results and the upcoming S$0.28 final dividend per share to keep the share price elevated for now.”

Source: CNA/sk(gs)


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