Revenue Up 9.6% Amid Rapid Growth of Direct Drinking Water Business
During the Reporting Period, the Group recorded revenue of HK$14.195 billion, up 9.6% year-on-year mainly due to rapid expansion of pipeline direct drinking water supply business and steady growth of environmental protection operation. If the impact of RMB exchange rate movement was excluded, its revenue advanced by 16.4% from a year ago. The Group’s gross profit grew by 7.7% year-on-year to HK$5.346 billion and expanded by 14.4% year-on-year if the impact of RMB exchange rate movement was excluded. Profit attributable to the Company’s shareholders dropped by 1.9% year-on-year to approximately HK$1.86 billion and increased by 4.1% if the impact of RMB exchange rate movement was excluded.
With the support of a solid foundation established for years through urban-rural water supply integration and supply-drainage integration, the Group pushed ahead with pipeline direct drinking water business and forged “water supply + direct drinking water” as its twin growth engines. Remarkable progress was achieved with revenue from pipeline direct drinking water supply segment surged 88.9% year-on-year to HK$1.31 billion. Profit from this segment soared approximately 2.1-fold to HK$504 million from a year ago. Underpinned by the economies of scale brought by pipeline direct drinking water services and greater synergies with tap water supply operation, the profit margin of this segment climbed 14.8 percentage points year-on-year to 38.3%.
Revenue from city water supply segment for the Reporting Period reduced by 6.3% year-on-year to HK$8.73 billion. If the impact of RMB exchange rate movement was excluded, revenue from this segment slightly reduced by 0.5% year-on-year. As the operating costs went up amid the coronavirus outbreak and water tariff hikes fell short of expectations, profit from this segment reduced by 9.9% year-on-year to HK$2.84billion. Meanwhile, revenue from environmental protection segment increased by 17.5% year-on-year to HK$1.41 billion. Profit from this segment grew by 14.3% year-on-year to HK$468 million, mainly attributable to greater benefits from supply-drainage integration and high-quality development of environmental protection business (including the tariff hikes of some projects).
The Group retained a sound financial position. As of 31 March 2023, it possessed cash and cash equivalents of approximately HK$7.50 billion, up 14.9% from a year ago. Meanwhile, its gearing ratio stayed at a healthy level of 76.18%, representing a slight increase of 1.3 percentage points from a year ago.
In order to further optimize its financial structure, the Group entered into a five-year US$250 million equivalent syndicated loan facility agreement with a greenshoe option of up to US$250 million equivalent in the Reporting Period. A total of US$300 million was drawn down and all proceeds were applied for early prepayment of the Company’s syndicated loan facilities. In addition, it drew down US$100 million loan facility through the third phase of the financing cooperation between the Group and the Asian Development Bank. The Group’s balance sheet was thus further enhanced with the ratio of long-term borrowings to total borrowings edged up 1.3 percentage points to 66.1%. Its debt structure was hence remarkably stabilized.
Looking ahead, the Group will seize opportunities arising from economic recovery and the “dual carbon” initiative to meet people’s increasing demand for high-quality and safe drinking water. Pipeline direct drinking water services will usher in a new round of low-carbon upgrade of domestic water consumption, carving out a trillion-yuan market. Pipeline drinking water services. The Company has vigorously developed and promoted pipeline drinking water business for years to capture the market trend. As the Group’s core business in the future, pipeline direct drinking water services will be given priority in the allocation of various resources such as personnel and capital.
The Group will adhere to the business expansion model of creating win-win cooperation with local governments and focus on the dual core businesses: water supply and pipeline direct drinking water. It will adopt technology and innovation-based models to create new growth drivers and enhance its operating efficiency and synergistic benefits, thereby steadily improving the Group’s income and profitability and driving its sustainable and high-quality development. It will contribute its efforts to improve people's livelihood and deliver greater returns for shareholders.
This press release is issued by PRChina Limited on behalf of China Water Affairs Group Limited.