Business

Coronavirus impact: MPIC posts first-ever quarterly income drop

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. finished its worst first quarter in history as its tollroads, water and light rail businesses were dealt a hammer blow by the coronavirus.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. finished its worst first quarter in history as its tollroads, water and light rail businesses were dealt a hammer blow by the coronavirus.

MPIC said core net income fell 6% to P3.4 billion, its first quarterly drop as a public company, largely due to the Luzon-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Net profit plunged 45.7% to ₱1.9 billion due to the provisioning in full of MERALCO’s investment in a gas-fired power plant in Singapore.

“Our first ever fall in year-on-year quarterly earnings is understandable, but overall I believe the strength of our portfolio, most especially power and water, has been demonstrated in the face of the pandemic, and despite investors’ stated concerns on regulatory issues,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of MPIC.

With the unprecedented shocks to supply and demand across most industries, MPIC is preserving cash to outlast this health crisis. It has cut its capital spending by half to P80 billion and shelved additional investments in the hospitality and logistics sectors to make sure it has enough cash to pay dividends and no employee is displaced

“At this time, our priorities are, in order: welfare of our people; service to our customers; cash preservation; and then profitability… But for now, it is likely that our second quarter results are likely to fall short of last year’s. That said, due to the prudent financial management of MPIC and of our major operating companies we are well placed to pull through this crisis, and in fact, likely maintain our dividends to shareholders”, Pangilinan said.

MPIC president Jose Ma. K. Lim said MPIC is well funded due to the ₱30.1 billion proceeds from the sale of its interest in the hospitals business.

Lim said the company has decided to suspend its previously announced share buyback and other discretionary projects.

“Maynilad is currently unable to pay a dividend pending the outcome of the concession agreement review, and as a result of the ECQ and other consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak, we may expect lower dividends from our power and toll roads businesses for 2020,” he said.

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