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Friday, May 8, 2009

Sunrise mulls keeping cash for strategic buys

Property developer Sunrise Bhd may not pay dividends this year to keep cash so that it can snap up strategic land buys.

The company has a policy of paying 35 per cent of its net profit as dividends. However, its board has yet to decide and it will also consult institutional investors first.

"I personally would like a high dividend payout to shareholders, but this year is different," executive chairman Tong Kooi Ong said.

"Sunrise is being offered tremendous opportunities. Cash kept in the company can come in handy," he told reporters after a briefing on the company's performance in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The group's current net borrowing is RM346.7 million. This is expected to fall further, thanks to future cash flow of unbilled sales. (Unbilled sales are sales that have yet to be booked in its accounts.)
In the nine months to March 31 2009, the group chalked up new property sales of RM247 million despite economic uncertainties.

"We've recorded property sales every single month during this challenging period, even in the last quarter of 2008 when conditions were weakest," Tong said.

On Sunrise's proposed development in Canada, Tong said it will be on a build-and-sell basis. However, the group has not decided on the timing of the launch.

On the home front, property sentiment has improved, with interest rates falling sharply and borrowing costs at just between 3.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent.

Many developers deferred property launches last year, allowing for existing units to be taken up.

"There are signs of nascent economic recovery," Tong said.

"We expect a property boom towards the end of 2011, based on historical two-year lag after the global economy bottoms out at the end of this year."

In its filing to the stock exchange yesterday, Sunrise said its third quarter net profit jumped 48 per cent to RM30.57 million from a year ago, thanks to positive contributions from its Solaris Dutamas, Mont Kiara Meridian, 10 Mont Kiara and 11 Mont Kiara developments.

It is hopeful of performing better than in the last financial year given its substantial unbilled sales of RM970 million as at end-March this year.

By Business Times (by Ooi Tee Ching)

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