Net profit for the quarter was SGD70.1m, an increase of 56% compared to same quarter previous year. Group profit before interest, tax and exceptional items (PBIT) recorded a significant gain of 50% or SGD43.7m to SGD131m.
In addition to Indochina, New Zealand and Malaysia also fared well with PBIT increasing 35% and 24% respectively. New Zealand's improved results was due mainly to lower packaging cost, higher margins from price increases made last year, favorable sales mix and translation gains of SGD3m as the New Zealand dollar appreciated against the Singapore dollar. Malaysia's stronger performance was a result of a 3% increase in volume and lower marketing expenditure.
PBIT for Singapore and Papua New Guinea showed similar growth of 11%. The former incurred lower overheads and marketing expenditure due to timing of marketing activities while the latter enjoyed higher margins from price increases, the company said.
Similarly, enhanced performances were also seen in Mongolia and China where volumes improved 30% and 26% respectively. In addition, Mongolia, last year, included an unrealised exchange loss from currency re-alignment of US dollar loans.
Roland Pirmez, chief executive officer of APB, said: "The robust first quarter operating performance is largely driven by Indochina which saw a 35% increase in volume due to strong festive sales in the run-up to TET (Lunar New Year). This resulted in PBIT jumping 69% for the region."
"Other factors throughout our regional operations that contributed to the group's improved first quarter performance are price increases implemented late last year, higher volumes, an improved sales mix and lower prices for some packaging materials in the markets."
The company said that the rate of growth for the remaining nine months is expected to be moderate. Barring any unforeseen developments, this growth, coupled with the acquisition of the breweries in Indonesia and New Caledonia and the divestment of the loss-making Indian operations, is expected to result in a higher attributable profit (before exceptional items) compared to last year.