March 19, 2020 / 10:32 AM / 9 days ago

CK Hutchison says oil prices, forex to impact 2020 profits

HONG KONG (Reuters) - CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd (0001.HK) said its 2020 profits will be impacted by the plunge in oil prices and currencies but retired billionaire Li Ka-shing’s conglomerate’s financial standing will be able to withstand the impact.

FILE PHOTO: The company logo of CK Hutchison Holdings is displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, China March 17, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo

Its pharmacy and telecom units, which have businesses in Europe, enjoyed better sales amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, however, as drug stores remained opened for people to buy daily necessities and people talked more on the phone.

Co-managing director Canning Fok told an earnings conference webcast on Thursday that with a 40% stake in Canadian oil and gas producing arm Husky Energy Inc (HSE.TO), CK Hutchison would book a loss of HK$2.4 billion ($309.19 million) if the oil price stays at $25 a barrel, as the break-even oil price for Husky is $38.50 and it had 20 million barrels in the inventory at $49 each.

Every 10% drop in the British pound GBP=D3 and euro would also impact the company's net profit, which is reported in Hong Kong dollars, by 2% and 3% respectively, he added.

Benchmark oil prices on Wednesday fell to around $25 a barrel, their lowest level in 17 years, while the pound plunged to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985 on Thursday.

CK Hutchison posted a 2% rise in 2019 profit on Thursday, while sister company CK Asset (1113.HK), a major property developer in Hong Kong, said its underlying profit rose 19%.

Commenting on the Hong Kong property market, Chairman Victor Li said the coronavirus epidemic impact had not been fully reflected in the economy yet, and it would be hard to forecast property prices.

The Hong Kong property market has proven resilient after sometimes violent anti-government protests last year and amid the COVID-19 outbreak, with January prices only 4.7% below their peak in May.

Li said the protests had mostly affected its hotel business, but long-stay occupancy rate has remained above 85%.

The management said the epidemic does not affect its aircraft leasing business, and they expected its port business to catch up on the number of container boxes being handled late in the second quarter to the third quarter as demand recovers.

Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Jason Neely

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