Khamis, 23 Januari 2014

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The Star Online: Business

CapitaMalls distribution per unit higher at 2.24 sen

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: CapitaMalls Malaysia Trust (CMMT) achieved a distribution per unit (DPU) of 2.24 sen for the fourth quarter of financial year 2014 ended Dec 31, 2013, 6.2% higher than the 2.11 sen in the previous corresponding quarter.

It posted net property income of RM54.8mil for the quarter, a 10.8% hike from RM49.5mil recorded in the same quarter in 2012.

It recorded gross revenue of RM78.8mil, up 6.8% year-on-year due to higher rental rates from new and renewed leases.

CapitaMalls Malaysia REIT Management Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Sharon Lim - the manager of CMMT - also attributed the improved performance to the completion of Phase 1 asset enhancement works at East Coast Mall in Kuantan, a two-phase project costing RM60mil, slated to be completed by December.

"We expect at least 8% return on investment from all enhancement works," Lim told StarBiz.

For the financial year 2013, CMMT recorded a DPU of 8.85 sen, 4.9% more than 8.44 sen for FY12.

Lim added that unit holders could expect to receive the total DPU of 4.5 sen from July to December 2013, on March 7, 2014.

She said that the total DPU of 8.85 sen for FY13 would translate into an annualised distribution yield of 6.5% based on CMMT's closing price of RM1.36 per unit on Wednesday.

"Retail sales will grow in tandem with the gross domestic product. Our diversified portfolio will keep our financial results healthy," Lim said. CMMT manages Gurney Plaza in Penang, a majority interest in Sungei Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, The Mines in Selangor and East Coast Mall in Kuantan, Pahang, a portfolio with a total net let table area of over 2.5mil sq ft.

China’s solar industry rebounds, but will boom-bust cycle repeat?

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 07:24 PM PST

HONG KONG: China's solar panel industry is showing signs of booming again after a prolonged downturn - raising fears of another bust when the splurge of public money that is driving a spike in demand dries up.

Lured by generous power tariffs and financing support to promote renewable energy, Chinese firms are racing to develop multi-billion dollar solar generating projects in the Gobi desert and barren hills of China's vast north and northwest.

The sweeteners have not only lured traditional energy investors like China Power Investment Corp, but also a host of solar panel makers and even companies such as toll road operator Huabei Express and Jiangsu Kuangda Auto Textile Group.

Some solar panel manufacturers, encouraged by a recovery in sales in the last two quarters – largely on surging demand from China and Japan – are expanding production capacity, even though the overall sector remains mired in a severe glut.

But industry officials worry fast-growing generation capacity will increase fiscal pressures on China and Japan and force them to cut subsidies which will then hit demand, just as happened with previous big solar users Germany, Spain and Italy.

"The key is whether the Chinese government is determined enough to boost solar generation," Sun Haiyan, senior executive at Trina Solar, said when asked if the current solar expansion in China was sustainable.

China already boasts solar manufacturing capacity of about 45 gigawatts (GW) – enough to meet global demand this year.

Trina Solar, JinkoSolar, Yingli Green Energy and Canadian Solar – among the world's largest solar manufacturers that also include Japan's Sharp Corp and US SunPower Corp – are adding 3GW of capacity, according to industry specialists and Chinese media.

Beijing is trying to consolidate the sector and force out the legion of small "zombie plants" currently sitting idle, but analysts say it faces stiff resistance from indebted regional and city governments that have backed local solar champions.

Michael Barker, analyst at global solar research firm Solarbuzz, said a risk now faced by the solar panel industry was manufacturers may react to improved demand "with somewhat irrational exuberance".

"This could upset the stabilisation process that has occurred during the past year, once again creating an overcapacity situation," he wrote in a note this week.


Beijing's decision in July to more than quadruple solar generating capacity to 35GW by 2015, and Japan's push to find alternatives to lost nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, have revitalised the moribund Chinese panel industry.

China installed 8GW last year, turning it into the world's largest solar market.

That included 6GW of solar farms – utility-scale, ground-mounted facilities – and 2GW of distributed solar energy such as rooftop installations. This year, it is talking about adding 14GW.

Installing 35GW of solar capacity would cost around US$50bil, plus subsidies granted to solar power producers under long-term purchase agreements.

But it's uncertain how long the current strong Chinese and Japanese demand, expected to account for 40-45% of global installations forecast for this year, will last.

With 100 million people still living in poverty, Beijing is unlikely to keep doling out generous solar subsidies indefinitely. Previous investment in solar plants in China has been hurt by delays in subsidy payments.

Japan has already lowered solar power tariff once in 2013.

Globally, the solar industry has made significant gains in driving down costs over the last few years, but it has yet to be weaned off big subsidies. Critics say the world should hold back from large-scale solar expansion until costs come down further and conversion efficiency of solar panels improves.


So far solar power only accounts for a small proportion of total installed power capacity in China, the world's largest energy user, which is predominantly fired by coal.

But whilst the potential would seem to be large, a rapid build-up of solar and wind farms in western China has already created a problem.

State Grid Corp of China has been struggling to transmit power from there to population hubs in the south and east due to a lack of a comprehensive high-voltage and smart grid to harness the intermittent renewable power.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Centre of Energy Economics at Xiamen University and an adviser to China's National Energy Administration, said he has long-term faith in China's solar power development but reckons grid access is a "tremendous challenge".

Yet generous power tariffs and sweet loans granted by China for solar development have triggered what some analysts call "solar rush" for mostly solar farms in remote western China, where sunshine is abundant.

Beijing is buying electricity from solar farm investors at up to 1.0 yuan/kilowatt hour for up to 20 years, attractive terms that offer a relatively predictable annual return of more than 10%.

Separately, US trade officials on Thursday opened investigations into imports of certain solar power products from China and Taiwan, a move that could have a major impact on the nation's fast-growing solar market.

In the last few weeks, Chinese solar panel makers have made a slew of announcements to develop solar farms. They expect it to become a key part of their business, as it would form a stable source of demand for their products.

Trina said on Dec. 30 that it had signed a deal to develop a mega 1-GW solar farm project in the western province of Xinjiang. It also announced a plan to build a panel factory there for the project.

Shunfeng Photovoltaic, which is buying the main unit of bankrupt former top solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings, this month vowed to invest 80 billion yuan (US$13bil) to develop 10-GW projects – nearly 30% of Germany's solar installed capacity – over the next three years.

"We want to develop 3 GWs a year so we need more panel capacity," said Shunfeng chairman Zhang Yi – Reuters.

Microsoft profits beat forecasts, no news on new CEO

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 06:18 PM PST

SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday, boosted by strong sales of its software and services for businesses, a solid holiday season for its new Xbox game console and Surface tablets, and a slightly lower tax bill.

The company reported a fiscal second-quarter profit of US$6.56bil, or 78 cents per share, compared with US$6.38bil, or 76 cents per share, in the corresponding quarter a year before.

The world's largest software company did not say anything about its five-month search for a new chief executive to replace Steve Ballmer, who said in August he would retire within a year.

The company co-founded by Bill Gates 39 years ago was central to the personal computer revolution, and its Windows and Office products still dominate business desktops, but it lost its way with consumers in the last decade under Ballmer as Apple Inc and Google Inc stormed ahead in mobile computing.

The quarter may well be the last full one for Ballmer, and it at least showed some positive momentum for the Surface tablet, Microsoft's long-delayed attempt to knock Apple's iPad off its perch.

"It's a good print to ride off into the sunset with, for the current CEO," said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial. "There's still the over-arching question for this company: Who's going to be the new CEO, and what direction they take."

Sources have said the search is down to a handful of candidates, including internal and external executives.


Microsoft's new Xbox One console, launched in November, helped the top line, contributing more than half to the 7.4 million unit sales in the quarter, up from 5.9 million a year ago.

That said, Sony's cheaper PlayStation 4 appears to be winning the latest video game showdown.

Sales of the second generation of Surface tablets jumped to US$893mil in the key holiday shopping quarter, more than the whole of the previous fiscal year. But making and selling the machines cost US$932mil, meaning Microsoft is not making a profit on them.

At prices ranging from US$450 to US$1,800, the sales figure suggests Microsoft sold no more than 2 million Surface units. By comparison, Apple is expected to announce sales of more than 20 million iPads for the holiday quarter next week.

"Xbox is definitely a feather in Microsoft's cap, they defied the skeptics," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. "But Surface continues to be the Mount Everest of uphill battles."

Microsoft did not say much about Windows Phones, its other great push into the mobile computing arena, which will gain force when it completes a $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's handset business in the next few weeks.

The company said overall phone revenues, which include license fees from Nokia and royalty payments from other handset makers using Google's Android system, jumped 50% to just over US$1bil in the quarter.

However, that increase mostly reflects a low starting base for Windows in the year-ago quarter and runaway sales of Android smartphones.

Worryingly for Microsoft, Nokia earlier in the day announced sales of only 8.2 million Lumia smartphones, which was almost double the same quarter a year ago, but down from the 8.8 million it sold in the previous quarter, suggesting that the new phones lost momentum in the crucial holiday season.

Microsoft's profit of US$6.56bil (78 sen per share) for the quarter easily beat Wall Street's average estimate of 68 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, lifting Microsoft shares 3.4 percent in after hours trading.

Overall revenue rose 14% to US$24.5bill, also beating Wall Street's forecast of US$23.7bil, helped by higher sales of Microsoft's perennially strong business offerings, including server software, the Office suite of applications and quickly growing cloud, or Internet-based, computing services.

Over the last few months analysts slightly raised revenue estimates, but reduced them for net income – Reuters.


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