February 23rd, 2023 | 15:21 CET
Baidu, Alpina Holdings, Stellantis - The course is set
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"[...] In Canada, there is $1.75 of debt for every dollar of disposable income - and that was true even before the pandemic. [...]" Karim Nanji, CEO, Marble Financial
Alpina Holdings - Slight dent in the success story
The specialist for integrated building services, engineering services, and conversion and supplementary work, listed on the SGX in Singapore and Frankfurt, has been established on the market since 2003 and counts customers mainly from the public sector among its clientele. These include the Singapore government, including agencies and ministries, as well as public universities and institutions. In this context, Alpina Holdings holds licenses of the highest classification to gain access to projects without tenders and project limits.
The year 2021 was characterized by increased demand, and the Company ended with a turnover of SGD 52 million and a profit of about SGD 9.3 million. A stock market value of SGD 32,26 million meant a price-earnings ratio of only 3. Because, on the one hand, many projects were still billed in 2021, it was recently pointed out in the unaudited results that the profit for the completed fiscal year 2022 is likely to be significantly lower. Another reason for the revenue decline was an ongoing labour shortage, which led to an increase in subcontracting costs. The Company will publish final figures by March 1. Last year, the dividend yield was 7%. The Company's strategy is to pass on 50% of the profit generated to shareholders.
Despite a weaker full year in 2022, management says demand for individual integrated facility management and IBS services is increasing as more buildings age and require higher levels of care and management. Thus, the decline is more likely to be a dip. The share price hardly moved due to the warning. Long-term oriented investors, therefore, continue to believe in the Alpina success story. A majority of the 184.34 million outstanding share certificates are held by CEO Siong Yong Low (45.5%) and Executive Director Yoon On Tai (37.2%).
Baidu with surprise
Robust advertising revenue and a strong cloud business have given the Chinese search engine operator a surprisingly high revenue. Sales in the fourth quarter were equivalent to USD 4.8 billion, close to the level of the same period last year. However, analysts had expected a decline to USD 4.6 billion. The Internet giant generated an operating profit of CNY 4.593 billion in the reporting period, up 135% year-on-year. The operating margin in the Baidu Core business segment was thus around 15%, compared with 20% in the previous quarter. Net income was in negative territory at minus CNY 5 billion.
"2022 was a difficult year, but we used this time to prepare the Company for better times. We believe we have a clear path in 2023 to re-accelerate our revenue growth. We are well positioned now to take advantage of the opportunities presented by China's economic recovery," said Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu.
In any case, opportunities for Baidu lie in the future topic of artificial intelligence. For example, it announced the integration of its self-developed ChatGPT-like chatbot "Ernie" into several products. Prior to the launch of Ernie Bot in March, Baidu CEO Robin Li said on a fourth-quarter earnings conference call that users will be more reliant on the Baidu search engine once it is integrated with the chatbot. The generative AI that powers it would significantly improve user experience and engagement.
The better-than-expected numbers and the announcement of a USD 5 billion share buyback program sent the stock up about 7% after the announcement.
Stellantis beats forecasts
With 14 brands, Stellantis is the world's fourth-largest automaker by vehicles sold. The Netherlands-based group designs, distributes and sells vehicles under brands including Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Peugeot, Opel and Citroen. Last year, the Group earned more than ever before in its history. This was due not only to high sales prices but also to cost savings.
Net profit grew by around 25% year-on-year to EUR 16.8 billion. Sales rose 18% to EUR 179.6 billion, although Stellantis recorded a decline of about 2%, with its brands delivering 5.7 million units. Earnings before interest and taxes, adjusted for special items, rose 29% to EUR 23.3 billion.
Stellantis also announced on Wednesday the planned dividend payments totaling EUR 4.2 billion, equivalent to EUR 1.34 per share. It also announced a EUR 1.5 billion share buyback program. US investment bank Goldman Sachs left its rating on Stellantis at "buy" with a price target of EUR 19 after the figures.
In addition to the Chinese Internet giant Baidu, the car manufacturer Stellantis was also able to come up with better-than-expected figures. Alpina Holdings, on the other hand, is expected to report a somewhat weaker full year after the record year 2021.
Conflict of interest
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