Public companies suffer in 1st half
Updated: 2012-09-01 02:46
By Gao Changxin in Shanghai (China Daily)
Public companies in China earned less in the first half of the year as the world's second-largest economy recorded the slowest growth in three years during the period.
The combined profit of all of the country's 2,475 listed companies in declined 1.51 percent year-on-year to around 1.02 trillion yuan ($160 billion), according to half-year earnings data compiled by Zhejiang Hithink Flush Information Network Co Ltd, a financial information provider. In the same period in 2011, their profit grew 20 percent.
Up to 14 percent of the companies reported a loss. And among those who did end the first half with a profit, 46 percent saw earnings decline, according to the data.
The gross margin, an important measure of profitability, dropped to 18.56 percent this year from 20.04 percent in 2011.
Wang Jianhui, chief economist with Southwest Securities Co Ltd, said the performance was in line with his expectations.
"It's only natural that corporate earnings are weaker when economic growth is decelerating," he said.
The National Bureau of Statistics said in July that China's GDP grew at a three-year low of 7.6 percent, as the weak global economy hurt exports and real estate curbs strained domestic demand.
Property investment slowed under persistent tightening. In the first half, total investment in real estate development rose 16.6 percent year-on-year. This was 6.9 percentage points lower than in the first quarter and 16.3 percentage points lower than in the same period in 2011.
The real estate sector's downstream industries were the hardest hit. Few listed steelmakers made any money in the first half. Beijing Shougang Co Ltd reported a loss of 349 million yuan, while Angang Steel Co Ltd saw a first-half loss of 1.98 billion yuan.
Companies' share prices responded to their weak performance. The major Shanghai Composite Index hit new lows in August. On Friday, it dropped 0.25 percent, or 5.06 points, to 2047.52 points.
The Shanghai index saw a one day drop of 1.74 percent on Monday, raising fears that it would soon drop below the psychologically important level of 2000 points. The index has fallen 6.91 percent so far this year and 2.67 percent this month.
Chen Li, an analyst with UBS AG, said that corporate earnings will bounce back in the fourth quarter along with share prices.
"In the third quarter, we believe consumer prices will continue falling, pushing companies to carry on destocking, with total inventory levels declining further to below their historical average," he wrote in a research note.
"With overall demand suppressed, corporate gross margins may not pick up until after the bottoming out of consumer prices in the fourth quarter."
Coal companies also had a rough first half, as demand weakened. Six out of 42 listed coal companies reported a loss and 28 saw their earnings decline, according to Wind Information, a Shanghai-based financial information provider.
China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd, the country's biggest coal company, reported that profit grew 14.7 percent to 25 billion yuan in the first half, slowing from 16.1 percent in the same period last year.
Consumer-based industries performed better. The food and beverage sector's first-half earnings increased 38.54 percent.
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