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Edited Transcript of 1828.HK earnings conference call or presentation 19-Aug-19 9:30am GMT

Half Year 2019 Dah Chong Hong Holdings Ltd Earnings Presentation

HK Sep 4, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Dah Chong Hong Holdings Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Monday, August 19, 2019 at 9:30:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript


Corporate Participants


* Gwen Walters

Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Corporate Communications & IR

* Mabel Cheung;General Manager of Finance

* Ni Hium Lai

Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - CEO & Executive Director

* Pui Ching Leung

Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Hong Kong Food Business & Corporate Director

* Tak Wah Lee

Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Motor, Yachts & Executive Director

* Timothy John Collins

Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Corporate Director and CEO of DCH Auriga Healthcare & IMSA Southeast Asia




Gwen Walters, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Corporate Communications & IR [1]


Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the 2019 interim results briefing of Dah Chong Hong Holdings. Before we begin, kindly take note of the disclaimer on forward-looking statements. Thank you. Now I'd like to introduce the management team on stage. First, we have Mr. Frank Lai, our Chief Executive Officer.


Ni Hium Lai, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - CEO & Executive Director [2]


Hi. Thank you. Thank you for coming. Thank you.


Gwen Walters, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Corporate Communications & IR [3]


Mr. Alex Lee, Head of Motor and Yachts; Ms. Betty Leung, Head of Hong Kong Food; Mr. Tim Collins, Head of DCH Auriga; and Ms. Mabel Cheung, the General Manager of Finance. To begin, I'll invite Ms. Mabel Cheung to share the group's financial performance.


Mabel Cheung;General Manager of Finance, [4]


Thank you, Gwen. Good afternoon.

In the first half of 2019, the revenue of Dah Chong Hong was HKD 23.8 billion, and profit attributable to shareholders was HKD 188 million, decreases of 2.7% and 31.6%, respectively. The drop in profit was primarily from the China motor business.

During this challenging period, our strategy was to maintain market shares despite the market declines. And unavoidably, we had to sacrifice short-term margin. However, our retail strategy was effective, while the China motor markets contracted by more than 10%. In fact, we successfully increased unit sales by 12%. On the other hand, the consumer products segments also returned to profitability as a result of the completed restructuring in our Southeast Asia business and reduced losses in China food. As such, the group will maintain its current dividend strategy with a payout ratio of 40%. The Board has approved an interim dividend of HKD 0.0423 per shares.

Now let's look at some key financial data of our balance sheet items. Despite the weakening macroeconomic environment, we have maintained strong discipline for a very healthy balance sheet. The increase in noncurrent assets and noncurrent liabilities is mainly attributable to the adoption of Hong Kong FRS 16. This is a new accounting standard that changed the way leases are recognized. All operating leases are now capitalized.

Cash increased in preparation for payment of an additional stake in acquired 4S shops, but our net debt position still remained quite steady as compared to last year year-end. Overall, we continue to demonstrate good liquidity with strong cash-generating capabilities.

Now let's look at our revenue distribution. Firstly, revenue by segment. At the end of the first half of 2019, the motor business remains the largest contributor to the group. Motor revenue portion has increased from 74% to 77% of the total business due to investment in our 4S shops network.

Looking at revenue by geography. Mainland China continues to account for approximately 2/3 of our total revenue. Okay, that's all for the financial review. I'll pass on the stage to Betty and Tim to talk about the consumer business performance.


Pui Ching Leung, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Hong Kong Food Business & Corporate Director [5]


Thank you, Mabel. Now let's go through the performance of our consumer product business in 2019.

DCH is a leading distributor of consumer products across Greater China, Japan and Southeast Asia. We distribute over 1,000 brands and 30,000 products in our -- in 4 industry sectors, namely: food and FMCG, healthcare, electrical products and logistics.

During the first half of the year, we focused on managing the impact of the softening economy while making improvements in our operation. This has resulted in relatively strong and steady Hong Kong performance, reduced losses in Mainland China and a profit turnaround in Southeast Asia. As a result, you can see that the business returned to profitability at $53 million compared to a loss of $44 million last year. Revenue, however, decreased by 12% as we have fine-tuned our product portfolio, reducing nonprofitable business streams and improved the quality of sales across all geographies.

Now let's take a look at the performance of each of our geographical segments. In Mainland China, DCH offers a consumer product business that includes food and FMCG, electrical products, healthcare products and logistics. In the first half of 2019, revenue for the Mainland China consumer products segment decreased by 33% to $1.2 billion. Net losses narrowed from $185 million to $103 million due to operation improvements in the China food business.

In our other businesses, logistics deliver a gain in profitability following efficiency enhancements, while healthcare stabilized after team restructuring. The electrical product business focused on cooperation with property developers and strengthening its lifestyle electronics portfolio.

In the Mainland China food business, the business enhancement program continued. We're working steadily to develop the right brands and exit nonprofitable business. However, the market environment remains challenging. We are faced with slowing economic growth, rapidly changing consumer preferences and increasing pressure from digital channels.

As part of our efforts to return to profitability, we have identified opportunities in key areas, including alcoholic beverages and foodservice, where we see a stronger value proposition. Going forward, we will continue to prioritize expansion into higher-value and growth areas, targeting the right principles, products and channels.

In Hong Kong, Macau, our food and FMCG business included branded distribution, commodity trading, food manufacturing and processing, house brands and more than 50 retail stores, backed by comprehensive logistics services. We also distribute healthcare and electrical products.

Despite economic uncertainty and weak local consumer sentiment, revenue in Hong Kong, Macau was stable at $3.5 billion, while net profit decreased slightly due primarily to expansion cost in healthcare. Our largest subsegment, the food distribution business, also recorded single-digit decrease in revenue and profit.

Having said that, we were able to maintain a stable margin despite challenges due to an ongoing focus on higher-value categories, including pet food, milk powder and personal care with brands like Meadowland from New Zealand, Fonterra dairy and also Ryo hair care products from Korea. These are some of the examples. We also launched new products, including our Cheer organic fresh milk in the first half of the year and new pest control products for Speedtox. And we also have launched a sustainable seafood and also meat without added hormones and antibiotics that modern consumers are looking for in order to grow our house brand and move up the value chain.

In the food processing business, we are currently doing business with almost all major foodservice and retail chains in Hong Kong. To deepen our penetration, we are developing new and tailor-made products such as Vietnamese sausages and Japanese BBQ pork. We have also established grading system for our smoked salmon to lead the industry by setting market grading standards on quality levels. Furthermore, we are aiming to enhance automation in production and improve operational efficiencies.

In food retail, we operate a total of 52 stores and have continued to optimize our footprint. In the first half of this year, we opened 2 new concept stores, one in Olympian City, DCH x Ztore, an online-to-offline concept store; and also DCH Finest in Wan Chai, with a meat deli counter, where we can offer tailor-made meat-cutting service in order to expand our customer base. The new stores revitalized our store image with a trendy and mid- to upscale shopping environment and enhanced customer shopping experience. We have also rearranged the category mix to include more premium products like Japanese fruit, sustainable seafood and healthier food choices.

The logistics business continued to drive synergy by increasing support to internal distribution business. Net profit increased as a result of growth in sales to combine internal and external customers and widespread efficiency enhancement measures. We are also building infrastructure to support the development across the Greater Bay Area. In June, we held the opening ceremony of our new 40 -- 450,000 square feet logistics center in Hengqin, Guangdong, which we serve the region with state-of-the-art logistics and cold-chain capabilities.

In the electrical product distribution business, a decline in the appliance market trigger fears retail price competition, while unseasonal weather impacted certain appliance categories like dehumidifier. However, overall revenue and net profit were stable due to appliance preinstallation project for a residential property in Macau and improved warehousing efficiencies.

Now I will pass the stage to Tim to talk about healthcare in Hong Kong and the other markets.


Timothy John Collins, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Corporate Director and CEO of DCH Auriga Healthcare & IMSA Southeast Asia [6]


Thank you, Betty. Good afternoon, everybody.

The healthcare distribution business here in Hong Kong and in Macau grew in both revenue and market share, following the opening of our stand-alone 12-story distribution center here in Hong Kong. This includes all the investments to improve our service offering with features such as RFID tracking, specialty cold-chain capabilities and robotic AGVs.

Although net profit decreased due to the expansion costs related to these investments, including a period of duplication of rentals as well as the impact of the changes to HKFRS 16 reporting requirements, the new infrastructure has achieved a lot of industry attention and has positioned us for rapid expansion in the market. We are also investing further in our Southeast Asian infrastructure for healthcare, and I'll touch on that in a moment.

In other markets, consumer products segment, DCH business include not just healthcare, but our food and FMCG distribution operations across Southeast Asia. We continue to operate, in addition to that, our contract manufacturing facility in Malaysia, which produces snacks, beverages and healthcare products for Asian markets.

This year, I'm pleased to report, as we reported at last year's closing results, the restructure and turnaround of the Southeast Asian portfolio and going from a net loss position to now a net profit position of $27 million as we exited our nonprofitable businesses and finished the restructuring in both Singapore and Malaysia.

Our contract manufacturing in Malaysia delivered double-digit gains in net profit as a result of the improved operational efficiency and an increase in share of higher-value dairy and milk powder production, generating an improved product mix.

In healthcare across Southeast Asia, revenue was stable. And our net profit declined largely due to the early start on infrastructure investment and also the implementation of a generic drug pricing in Thailand.

Continuing with our strategy, however, to better serve multinationals across the region, we're leveraging our presence to provide consistent infrastructure, systems and standards. At the same time, our private-label development across business streams and working with sister companies through the CITIC network to identify new market expansion opportunities continues. A number of these are on the screen behind me.

Now I'd like to pass to Alex to talk about the motor business results.


Tak Wah Lee, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Motor, Yachts & Executive Director [7]


Thank you, Tim, and good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

First 6 months, in Hong Kong, in Mainland and overseas, a lot of challenges. And you can see, luckily, in terms of revenue, we were able to control in a stable situation compared with last year.

During this challenging period, management focused on 2 key issues. First, all the existing business, we tried our best to enhance our operation excellency effect. And secondly, during this challenging period, we also rely on the opportunity to invest more to build, to expand our network and to strengthen our infrastructure. Allow me to elaborate on each particular market.

Next slide, you will see our business in Mainland China. And this year, we have enhanced our brand to increase it to 20 brands altogether. On top of the sales and other sales business, we also operate a leasing business, the finance business and a used car business. Last year, our position in terms of national ranking was #8. And this year, we are happy to report we moved ahead, advanced our position to #6 in terms of the total turnover.

Next slide, you will see the overall situation in Mainland. On the left-hand side of your slide, you can see there are 2 bars, one in gray area and the other in red. It's unfortunate that the last 6 months, all the red bars are lower than the gray bar, which represent we are facing a contracting market size situation. Overall, the market has dropped by 12.4%.

On the opposite side, you will see the situation in DCH. And out of the 6 months, you can see we have 4 months that the red bar was higher than last year. That means that we sell more than the market. And altogether, last 6 months, our total vehicle number was increased by 11.5%. Why this happened? Mainly because of 2 particular points: One, we rely on the situation to implement our 3-year network expansion policy; and secondly, as I mentioned, we rely on this time to enhance our operation effect.

On the next slide, I will use Toyota as an example. Here, in China, we operate a Toyota business in a number of cities, including Shenzhen. Allow me to use that as an example. Unlike in Hong Kong, we only face competition from other brands by doing sales business in China. In Mainland, we have 2 competition: one is other brand, and the other is same-brand competition. Shenzhen, we have altogether 14 Toyota 4S shops, and we have 2. Last year, out of the 14 shops, our ranking were #2 and #10. I'm very happy to report to you that the last 6 months, our position on both spots have improved. One to become #1 and the other has become #6. And this kind of operation improvement are also happening on other cities like Kunming and in Zhanjiang. Altogether, the whole Mainland, they have over 500 Toyota shops. This Zhanjiang shop, last year, the overall national ranking was #12. This year, it has become the champion. And we believe all these are because of the good service our team are providing to the customer during this very challenging period.

Next slide, you will see, although the market was dropping in double digits, actually, it is 12.4%. But in terms of revenue, we achieved a small growth, 1.5%. And for aftersales, we've also grown in high single digit. During this challenging period, we focused a lot on our balance sheet control. And I'm happy to report that in terms of the inventory control, we are one of the best among the industry, and we're able to control the inventory to 37 days only. 37 days. Yes.

Yes. In terms of net profit, you can see we got a double-digit drop, mainly because of 4 points. The first, during this difficult period, our management invest more on our IT, on our training and on our infrastructure. And indeed, the digitization stream has already allowed us to have some quick win. Last 6 months, in terms of revenue and in terms of product aftersales, have got a high single-digit growth.

Second point. In Zhanjiang, this city, we have altogether 7 4S shops. They have been operating there for over 15 years. And this time, for us to move our shop to a new area with better environment for customers to enjoy the new car experience. The new shop also provide bigger aftersales service center for us to have a bigger capability to handle the car repair and the service business.

The third point is we are already implementing our network growth strategy started from last year. And last 6 months, we have around 20% of our network shop that are at the age below 3, and you all know, during at the age of 3 or below. In terms of sales, yes, we are competing very well. And from the Toyota example, you can see our ranking among the industry is on the very good position. But eventually, it also takes time for us to accumulate the aftersales customer, and it is quite normal. Therefore, a new shop, it takes around 2 to 3 years to start having a profit.

And finally, in terms of the new car GP. Yes, indeed, the market is dropping. So you can imagine that the margin is dropping because when demand is smaller than supply, some of our competitors have no choice but to down their price. In terms of GP, we dropped by 1% point compared with last year in terms of the new car sales.

On next slide, you can see our network growth. Our network development focus on 3 particular areas: First, luxury and super luxury brands; second, the local premium; and third, the commercial vehicle. And I guess, you can easily understand why we also start expanding our commercial vehicle segment, mainly because we have a very strong position in Hong Kong, which we already got a market share of over 50% in Hong Kong for the last 40 years.

In first 6 months, this year, we have opened 3 new shops. Two belongs to Lynk & Co; and one, the MAN from Germany. Next, in the second half of this year, we will continue this expansion program and 6 more new shops will be open that cover the brand, including Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and 3, Lynk & Co.

Next slide, you will see our business on the motor-related business also have good improvement. We have strengthened the supporting business, including financed, used car and motor leasing. And the rate for the in-house finance, this time we are lucky to report, has already improved to 18%. And the total amount we used on this business has already grown to CNY 811 million. And following changes on the vehicle relocation restrictions and the support from the central government, we will keep a bigger effort on developing our used car business.

Last 6 months, 80% of our 4S shop have already started the used car business successfully. And used car business give us 2 good thing: One, it is one of our future to get more product and more customer in our service center; and second one is we also got additional rebate from the principal on doing the used car business. So that will be particularly important for DCH in the development of motor China.

Next, we'll be -- I give you 20 seconds to enjoy a short movie about one of our new projects in Mainland China. This time, no music.



Tak Wah Lee, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Motor, Yachts & Executive Director [8]


This is, indeed, in a mature market like in the West or in Australia, driving a recreational vehicle to spend a holiday is quite a very good habit for the customers there. And now we bring it to China and find that more and more customer enjoy this. We started this business last year. And internally, we work together with [THR], which is one of the biggest RV company in the global industry.

Yes. Okay. Next, in Hong Kong and Macau, you know we have been doing business here over 17 years, representing 16 passenger car and commercial vehicle brands. Overseas, we now have footprint in Singapore, Taiwan and Myanmar.

Yes. Next slide, on the left-hand side, you can see the market is not so good compared with last year. Our Finance Secretary has already shared with you that in terms of GDP, last 6 months, we only got 0.6% growth compared with last year's. So the luxury motor being regarded as a luxury market, of course, the situation will not be very promising. You can see, overall, it dropped by 14.5%. In terms of passenger cars, it dropped by 13.3%. And because of the good efforts from our team, luckily, we've got some improvement in term of market shares. Commercial vehicle has dropped even more seriously than the passenger car, 17.1%.

And for DCH, our situation compared with last year dropped 24.8%. One of the reason, I guess, will be the difficult situation on the extreme heavy-duty vehicles. Allow me to give you the data for vehicles, 24-ton and above, which we are very strong, using the 2 brands, Isuzu and MAN. We are the leader there with market share over 50%. But unfortunately, the overall market size for this 24-ton and above dropped not by 17%, not by 20%, but dropped by 52%. And under that situation, we are facing a very difficult position, but we believe all this should be short term. And when the legislative council will open in October, we believe our situation will be back to normal and that our short-term situation will disappear quite soon, hopefully, by end of this year.

Because of the strong effort of the team, you can see, overall, our revenue in terms of Hong Kong and overseas only experienced a small drop, 4% compared with last year. And in terms of net profit, 7% compared with last year.

Three points I would like to share with you. First, in terms of vehicle sales, when the market share and the profit are in conflict, we take profit in the -- as the priority. And that means we focus more on the quality of the transactions. And secondly, last 6 months, our motor-related business have also experienced some good single-digit growth. And finally, in terms of overseas, our business in Singapore and Taiwan experienced some double-digit growth, which allow us to control the overall net profit to maintain at a situation similar to last year.

Some details. In Hong Kong, about 8 years ago, we brought in the Nissan, the first EV, what they call the Leaf to Hong Kong. And after 8 years, we bring the second-generation Leaf to Hong Kong. This time, the demand and the support from the customers is much better than 8 years ago. I'm pleased to report that we have the #1 position in terms of roll up in last 6 months. Besides the Japanese Leaf sedan, we also have the e-tron from Audi, which is an SUV. And in the second half of this year, after many repeated requests from DCH, including Mr. Lai, eventually, we also got the #1 best sales EV, MPV, to Hong Kong. So that is something we hope we'll have the Hong Kong people to protect the environment even better while enjoying the very dynamics driving capability of an EV.

On the next slide, we started the yacht business some 3 years ago, and the result was encouraging. Nowadays, in Hong Kong, in this replacing -- replacement market, we should be at the -- in a very #1 or #2 position, and we have the products on that particular segment. While on that, we also started to develop and expand our footprint on Mainland China.

On the slide, you can see I have hand over a check with 6-digit to one of our Bentley sales executive. Why is that? Mainly because this Bentley saleslady helped us to secure a yacht in March this year. And in Mainland China, we have over 200 Bentley, Mercedes-Benz and Audi salesmen. So we believe that will allow DCH to expand our yacht business in Mainland China faster than other competitors.

In our overseas market, last year, Singapore, the first few months, we need a little bit more time to prepare the Euro VI vehicles. All these vehicles, from light-, medium- to heavy-duty, started to arrive in Singapore by third and fourth quarters. And once we have the product, because we have a very good team and support from customer, you can see in terms of revenue and profit, we also rebound in double-digit. In Taiwan, we got blessing from Isuzu that allow us to do more local assembly in our SKD plant. And that helped us to reduce our cost and, of course, that helped us to increase our market shares and our revenue. And all this allow us to sustain our high-speed growth in the overseas market.

Finally, I would like to report the Myanmar development. We went there 4 years ago, and it take a little bit longer time for us to get all the government permit to run the business. 12 months ago, we got all the license and sent the first lot of vehicles from Japan to this city. And I'm happy to report that last month, just last month, we already got cash balance. So this will be, after Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, another new city for us to build our commercial vehicle capability in near future.

Now I hand over to our CEO, Frank, to do the conclusion.


Ni Hium Lai, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - CEO & Executive Director [9]


Okay. Thanks again. Thanks again all for coming.

I think both Alex, Betty, also including Tim, shared with you the challenges that we have faced in the last 6 months. I think that the trade war, of course, affect the sentiment. But I think what -- maybe I could elaborate a bit more, and Alex back as he said, take Hong Kong, for example. We have one brand, INFINITI, who has decided to pull out from Hong Kong. And then we also have a few model. They -- because of the change of the emission system, the new model delay coming into Hong Kong. So although we believe we can catch up the sales later on, it does have a short-term impact.

In China, we face the same thing. We have an emission change. Bentley, one of our key brand, actually we have no car to sell from now until end of the year, but our salespeople are still going around to collecting deposits. So we believe that when the model is ready back to China, we should be able to catch up. So we have short-term challenges facing us. But you can see that the number, the management team has been very diligent in catching up in other area to make up for this shortfall. That's why you can see the numbers going up, but the margin, unfortunately, need to sacrifice. I mean we did it consciously to ensure we maintain the market share. Actually, we increased the market share during this difficult time.

One more thing also happening in China, which we are now changing a little bit to address, is the kind of so-called bundle sales requirement has been tightened in China. For some of you that know, I mean there's a famous -- what we call the [Scion] incident where the service outcry of one particular customer caused a whole change on the business model. So this change require us to also adopt our so-called ancillary income into our motor business. So we are now doing more in financing. We are doing more in servicing. We are doing more on value-added services to compensate for that part of change. So all this change together with, of course, the sentiment, I keep on using the word sentiment as a sign of U.S. so-called trade pass effect, but the effect is more on sentiment.

So in summary, we can see a 12% contraction in China motor in term of volume, of which we have a positive growth. We also saw Hong Kong GDP growth is as low as ever since of 0.6%. The consumer confidence also 5-year low. All these adding making us a challenge for DCH.

However, what we are saying is we continue to take this opportunity to strengthen our capability, our IT investments, our so-called balance sheet management. You'll continue to see that we are now merging our operation from our last 2 acquisition of Li & Fung Asia also with [Ciji] purchase. So you can see our stock number actually continue to reduce. Some of them are through natural retirement. Some of them are through our improvement in IT. Some of them are through our so-called SOP enhancement through the merger and acquisitions. So you can see that we are improving our cost base. We are improving our IT. We are also pleased to share with you that we continue our discipline in our balance sheet management. So in -- currently, I think with our motor vehicle, we have about 45-day stocks, and our inventories has improved. Our China operation, we have managed to reduce loss quite substantially. We can see the momentum to further improve that in the second half.

So again, that is the summary of my presentation. I would like to open the floor for questions. You are very welcome.


Gwen Walters, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Corporate Communications & IR [10]


Thank you. Are there any questions from the audience?


Ni Hium Lai, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - CEO & Executive Director [11]


Okay. If not, we have a road show, I think, a small road show tomorrow morning.


Gwen Walters, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Corporate Communications & IR [12]


That's correct.


Ni Hium Lai, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - CEO & Executive Director [13]


So you are welcome to attend. Or like I said, any questions, feel free to ask Gwen. I mean we are very accessible and we welcome any questions.


Gwen Walters, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Corporate Communications & IR [14]


Okay. Great. Then I'd like to invite you all to enjoy some refreshment next door, where we have our Valley Chef sausages, products from Sim, Lavazza coffee. And thank you all for coming. Thank you very much.


Pui Ching Leung, Dah Chong Hong Holdings Limited - Head of Hong Kong Food Business & Corporate Director [15]


Thank you.