-
Advertorial
-
FOCUS
-
Guide
-
Lifestyle
-
Tech and Vogue
-
TechandScience
-
CHTF Special
-
Nanhan
-
Futian Today
-
Hit Bravo
-
Special Report
-
Junior Journalist Program
-
World Economy
-
Opinion
-
Diversions
-
Hotels
-
Movies
-
People
-
Person of the week
-
Weekend
-
Photo Highlights
-
Currency Focus
-
Kaleidoscope
-
Tech and Science
-
News Picks
-
Yes Teens
-
Fun
-
Budding Writers
-
Campus
-
Glamour
-
News
-
Digital Paper
-
Food drink
-
Majors_Forum
-
Speak Shenzhen
-
Business_Markets
-
Shopping
-
Travel
-
Restaurants
-
Hotels
-
Investment
-
Yearend Review
-
In depth
-
Leisure Highlights
-
Sports
-
World
-
QINGDAO TODAY
-
Entertainment
-
Business
-
Markets
-
Culture
-
China
-
Shenzhen
-
Important news
在线翻译:
szdaily -> Markets
Firms’ rosy earnings reveal a patchier picture
    2017-September-12  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

AT first glance, Chinese firms’ earnings are off to a roaring start to 2017: first-half net profits surged by nearly a quarter, helped by healthy expansion in the world’s second-largest economy. Last year, the rise was a mere 6 percent.

Robust profits have been a key factor in pushing the benchmark Hong Kong index to three-year highs and its Shanghai counterpart to its strongest levels in 20-months.

But the corporate investment and merger and acquisition that is driving those earnings is being fuelled by growth in debt that is too rapid for comfort, analysts say. Frequent use of one-off gains to lift results and unhealthy fundamentals in some sectors may also give investors pause for thought.

Total debt at some 1,200 firms listed in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong as of end-June grew 13 percent from a year ago, much faster than the first half of 2016 when the rate was 7.5 percent.

Profits were not used to retire debt in significant quantities over the period and cash levels at those firms, selected for the survey as they have reported earnings for at least two years in a row, shot up 12 percent.

All in all, debt-to-equity ratios were little changed from last year, an indication that hopes of a broad deleveraging for Chinese firms, widely seen as having worrisome debt levels, seem premature.

“These earnings improvements are credit driven and I have doubts about the sustainability,” said Andrew Kemp Collier, managing director at independent research firm Orient Capital.

China’s property developers have led the way in debt creation, and even if some of the most heavily burdened like China Evergrande did cut back, others kept borrowing.

Sunac saw contract sales almost double and gross profit climb 86 percent, but its total borrowing also jumped, up 60 percent to nearly US$28 billion.

“The picture is not as rosy as shown by rising earnings — credit is accumulating faster than nominal growth,” said Natixis chief economist Alicia Garcia Herrero, also noting that very short term debt is not captured in conventional leverage ratios.

A study by Natixis shows Chinese companies on average have 68 percent of their liabilities in loans of less than 12 months, seen as riskier due to the need to refinance, compared with a global average of 38 percent.

China’s economy has surprised experts with its resilience, growing by a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the first half, on resurgent exports and healthy retail sales - even if it is expected to start to lose some steam.

But earnings gains in some sectors, while welcome, were not necessarily due to strength in core businesses.

Oil majors saw revenue and profits gain, but this was due to a average 28 percent jump in oil prices, while oil and gas production volumes fell 2 percent in the first half versus a year ago, according a Fitch ratings report.

And while China’s largest banks showed improvement, smaller banks, which rely on short-term borrowings from other financial institutions, saw net interest margins contract and some were struggling. Shengjing Bank’s first-half operating income slid almost 17 percent.

The banking sector will also have to bear the brunt of excessive borrowing.

“Credit-fuelled excess investment is building up problems with assets that are likely to yield a poor return over time, and many are likely to turn into bad debts,” said Richard Jerram, chief economist at Bank of Singapore.

One-off or foreign exchange gains were also frequent across a range of industries, dressing up results even when sales or operating profit weakened.

Lianhua Supermarkets reported a 6 percent drop in turnover on store closures and competition from online sales, but a substantial gain on the sale of financial assets. (SD-Agencies)

 

深圳报业集团版权所有, 未经授权禁止复制; Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn