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Yen strength weakens Sihanoukville Autonomous Port profits

A cargo container is lifted for shipping at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port earlier this month.
A cargo container is lifted for shipping at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port earlier this month. Sahiba Chawdhary

Yen strength weakens Sihanoukville Autonomous Port profits

Newly listed Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) reported a 30 percent decline in profits for 2016, despite increased revenue generation, due to what it claimed were losses in transaction values resulting from the appreciation of the Japanese yen currency.

According to a filing on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) yesterday, PAS recorded total revenues of $51.3 million last year, compared to $48.8 million in 2015. However, the state-owned operator of Cambodia’s only deepsea port recorded a net profit of only $6.7 million in 2016, down from $9.6 million a year earlier.

Sam Sopheap, deputy director of accounting department of PAS, said the company’s operating revenue was still strong in 2016, but that profits had declined because of unfavourable currency exchange rates between the US dollar and the Japanese yen. He added that these forex losses were the result of the company having to make loan repayments to the Japanese government.

“In 2015, the value of Japanese yen decreased so we gained [profits] from exchange transactions,” he said. “But in 2016, the yen’s value moved up strongly and we lost about 9 billion riel [$2.2 million] just through currency exchange rates.”

According to Sopheap, the exchange rate between the US dollar and Japanese yen was valued at about 120 yen per $1 in 2015, while in 2016 the yen had risen to 102 per $1.

Last week, the PAS became the fifth listed firm on the CSX after successfully raising $27 million in the initial public offering process. The port floated a 25 percent stake on the exchange with shares priced at 5,360 riel ($1.34), a 6.3 percent increase on the stock’s 5,040 riel ($1.26) offering price – a sign analysts said indicated strong investor demand.

By the end of market trading yesterday, the stock’s price sat at 5,080 riel ($1.27) per share with no trading activity.

Lamun Soleil, director of the CSX’s market operation department, said that the slip in profits would do little to harm investor confidence because forex fluctuations are widely known to be one of the port’s inherent risk factors.

He added that a better indicator for the health of the company would come from examining net operating profits, which “slightly increased” from $13.4 million last year compared to $12.9 million in 2015.

“From a medium to long-term point of view, I think serious investors should not be disturbed by this news,” he said.

“[I] just believe that [the port] will keep growing.” Svay Hay, CEO of Acleda Securities, said the decline in profits could impact the decisions of PAS’s day traders, but it would not dampen the hope of institutional investors who purchased its stock for long-term dividend gains.

“Some short-term investors might think of selling their stock because they are sensitive to negative news related to a company,” he said. “But for long-term investors, this news does not impact their investment.”

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