SJM warns as profit climbs 12pc to $3.2b

Business | Kevin Xu and Reuters 17 Mar 2020

Macau casino operator SJM (0880) said its net profit rose 12.5 percent year on year to HK$3.21 billion last year but warned that the Covid-19 outbreak would have a material adverse effect on its first-half results.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased 13.2 percent year on year to HK$4.21 billion in 2019,

Basic earnings per share were 56.6 HK cents, and a final dividend of 22 HK cents per share was declared.

Total net revenue fell 1.6 percent to HK$33.88 billion in 2019 from a year before, and net gaming revenue slid 1.5 percent year-on-year to HK$33.16 billion.

Mass market table gaming revenue went up 8.8 percent to HK$25.13 billion last year, while VIP gaming revenue plunged 30.39 percent to HK$13.69 billion. Revenue from slot machine and other gaming operations was HK$1.19 billion, up by 2.5 percent year on year.

Shares of SJM fell 7.29 percent to HK$7.25 on Monday.

Macau's Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong said casinos in Macau will completely resume operations on March 20.

The government of Macau previously asked that all casino operators in Macau suspend operations for a 15-day period starting on February 5 to mitigate the spread of the deadly epidemic.

The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has imposed strict rules for casinos including temperature checks, mask protection and health declarations for staff and guests.

Only half the tables on a casino floor are permitted to be open to ensure adequate distance between people. Patrons are not allowed to stand or congregate, says a government notice. Each baccarat table, which normally seats seven people and dozens of boisterous onlookers, will be allowed only four players.

Casinos say they are losing between US$1.5 million (HK$11.7 million) and US$2.6 million on a daily basis to keep staff on payroll and maintain contractual obligations.

Analysts and executives predict that even with the reopening of casinos, gaming revenue will drop at least 80 percent in February and 50 percent in March year on year, with the sector likely to take weeks to get back to normal.

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