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Record showing for Singapore's top 1,000 firms - Jan 18, 2008 (ST)

BackJan 18, 2008

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Record showing for Singapore's top 1,000 firms

Combined sales rose to $1.3 trillion, with oil, energy-related firms in the lead.


Jan 18, 2008
The Straits Times

THE top 1,000 Singapore companies, both public and private, have set a spectacular new record in terms of total combined sales.

After shattering the $1 trillion turnover barrier two years ago, total sales continued to grow, rising by 11.8 per cent to $1.29 trillion for the 12 months ended May 31 last year. To put it another way, that is $1.29 million a million times over.

Growth was even sharper for combined profits, which surged by 15.5 per cent to $83.5 billion, according to credit ratings firm DP Information Group.

As in recent years, oil and energy-related firms led the way in terms of sales. Shell Eastern Trading came out ahead, followed by BP Singapore, Vitol Asia and SK Energy Asia.

Analysts say the hike in crude oil prices explains the dominance of these firms, and bodes well for both energy companies and commodity players.

Those that bagged top honours in the ratings in terms of profit, as well as other criteria, hailed from more diverse industries. Telco heavyweight SingTel clinched the top spot, followed by United Overseas Bank, DBS Group Holdings, Goodwood Park Hotel and Singapore Airlines.

Tincel Properties, in which Raffles Holdings used to have a stake, topped the return on equity (ROE) category. Newly included in the rankings, this classification means the firms can be compared in terms of the profits generated per dollar of capital invested by their shareholders.

Wing Tai Clothing also did well in this class, posting an ROE of 412 per cent. During the ranking period, the apparel retailer added nine new outlets under brands such as G2000, U2, Topshop, Topman, Dorothy Perkins and Karen Millen.

Co-produced by Ernst & Young Singapore, the ranking of the top 1,000 companies (S1000) and the top 500 small and medium-sized enterprises (SME500) is based on the annualised audited results of more than 8,000 companies incorporated in Singapore.

On a sector basis, two of the best performers in this year's S1000 rankings were the services and financial sectors.

In the services category, Singapore Press Holdings won the net profit award, while agri-business group Wilmar International took the turnover award.

Manufacturing was the only sector to show a decline in turnover and profits.

The combined turnover of manufacturers in the S1000 was down by 8.3 per cent compared with the previous ranking period, while profits were down by 41 per cent. SME500 manufacturers fared no better, with turnover down by 17.1 per cent and profits down by 32.1 per cent.

Heavy automation engineering firm Romar Positioning Equipment bucked the downward trend and grew its profits by 304 per cent to $8.1 million. For that, it snagged this year's SME500 net profit excellence award.

'In the last two years, the oil and gas sector has picked up, so we rode the wave,' says managing director Jonathan Lim.

'He's in the right industry as oil prices have spiralled upwards. It makes sense that oil exploration and energy-related equipment is in demand,' said Standard Chartered Bank economist Alvin Liew.

For the SME500, sales were up by 3.4 per cent at $13.9 billion though profits rose by only 4.9 per cent to $665.5 million.


Sharp extremes

WEAKER SHOWING

Only firms in the manufacturing sector saw turnover and profit decline. Among S1000 manufacturers, combined turnover fell by 8.3 per cent compared with the previous ranking period, while profits were down 41 per cent. For the SME500, turnover fell by 17.1 per cent, while profits were down by 32.1 per cent.

STRONGER PERFORMANCE

Oil and energy-related firms posted excellent sales, especially the likes of Shell Eastern Trading, BP Singapore, Vitol Asia and SK Energy Asia.

Even in manufacturing, heavy automation engineering firm Romar bucked the downward trend because of growing demand. Its profits soared by 304 per cent, which snagged it the SME500 net profit excellence award.