U.S. News

Hutchison's 2006 Profit Jumps 40% on Lower 3G Losses


Hutchison Whampoa, tycoon Li Ka Shing's ports-to-telecoms flagship, posted a 40% surge in 2006 net profit on Thursday, largely in line with forecasts, on narrowing losses at its third-generation mobile telecoms business and exceptional gains.

The company, which is the world's largest container ports operator and has extensive holdings in retail, energy and property, posted net income for 2006 of HK$20.03 billion (US$2.57 billion), against HK$14.34 billion net profit a year earlier.

The result compares with an average forecast net profit of HK$20.33 billion from 11 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates, although investors have for the last several years been mostly preoccupied with the company's US$25 billion investment in 3G telecoms in Italy, Britain and a handful of other countries.

Hutchison has in recent years been selling off assets in order to offset 3G losses. As usual, its 2006 results were driven by exceptional gains, including HK$24.4 billion booked in the first half of the year for the sale of a 20% stake in its ports unit to Singapore's PSA International.

This year, Hutchison will receive a dividend of US$2 billion on the sale of India's No.4 cellular carrier by subsidiary Hutchison Telecommunications International to British giant Vodafone, and reap special dividends from its 35% stake in Canadian oil producer Husky Energy.

After a rally in anticipation of the US$11.1 billion sale of the Indian cellular carrier, Hutchison shares have fallen and are flat for the past year.