Singapore is facing its worst economic downturn since independence.
With forced border shutdowns and movement restrictions caused by the Covid-19 virus, it’s expected that many businesses will suffer from falling revenue and plunging profits.
However, the pandemic has also unearthed some surprisingly resilient businesses. Not all of them are well-known, but each has managed to defy the odds and post growth in these unprecedented times.
These four companies represent a small segment of resilient businesses that have soldiered on through the crisis.
Union Gas Holdings Ltd
Union Gas is a provider of fuel products in Singapore and has three main business divisions – retail liquified petroleum gas (LPG), compressed natural gas (CNG) and diesel.
The group has a fleet of over 200 delivery vehicles serving more than 200,000 households as well as commercial businesses such as hawker centres and coffee shops.
For the first half of 2020, Union Gas reported a 27.2 per cent year on year growth in revenue.
The increase was driven by increased usage of LPG by households during the circuit breaker period from April to June.
Net profit after tax soared 76.3 per cent year on year to hit $7 million from $4 million a year ago.
Union Gas had signed a memorandum of understanding with Union Energy Corporation Pte Ltd to explore possible acquisitions of assets, as part of its business expansion plan.
CSE Global is a global technology company with an international presence.
The group offers cost-effective, integrated solutions to the oil and gas, mining and infrastructure industries, and employs around 1,400 employees worldwide.
For the first half of this year, CSE Global announced a 39.1 per cent year on year jump in revenue.
The group’s net profit increased by 47.7 per cent year on year to $15.1 million.
Cash generated from operations more than quadrupled to $33.9 million, while the group’s order book swelled by 25 per cent year on year to $242 million.
The strong result was due to higher project revenue from mining projects in Australia and North America, as well as contributions from the company’s recent acquisitions in Volta and RCS Telecommunications.
An interim dividend of $0.0125 was declared, unchanged from a year ago..
Propnex is an integrated real estate services group with 8,675 sales professionals as of 31 July 2020. The group provides a range of services including real estate brokerage, training, property management and consultancy.
Propnex’s first-half earnings report was impressive, with revenue jumping 45.2 per cent year on year to $241.5 million.
Net profit attributable to shareholders nearly tripled from $5.7 million to $14.8 million.
A higher number of transactions were completed in the first half, leading to an increase in commission income from project marketing services.
A surprising recovery has taken place in the real estate market of late, as private developers sold 1,256 new homes excluding executive condominiums in August.
Sales have risen to its highest in 11 months and was attributed to pent-up demand arising from the circuit breaker and a ban on show flats. Propnex is not standing still, though.
It recently announced a new partnership with Mediacorp and 99.co to create a virtual Singapore Property Show 2020 to reach out to a larger audience. The event will be launched on the 10 October and last till 4 December.
Centurion Corporation Ltd
Centurion owns, develops and manages a portfolio of purpose-built workers accommodation (PBWA) assets in Singapore and Malaysia. The group also owns student accommodation assets in Singapore, Australia, the UK, South Korea and the US. For the first half of the year, Centurion’s revenue inched up 4 per cent year on year to $66.6 million.
Net profit from core business operations rose 16 per cent year on year to $21 million.
The good performance mainly from its strong first-quarter results, but CEO Kong Chee Min warned that the full effects from the pandemic have yet to be seen.
Hence, the group is adopting a cautious stance and conserving cash to tide through the tough times. Early this month, Centurion announced that it had secured a bid to manage four quick build dormitories in Singapore. The group will lease and manage up to 6,400 beds for an initial three years, with an option to extend for an additional year.
This move should further strengthen its portfolio as bed capacity increases by 22.9 per cent.
This article was first published in The Smart Investor. Disclaimer: Royston Yang does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.