National carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd‘s second-quarter net profit surged more than tenfold, thanks mainly to improved margins and its popular Saga and Persona.
However, the carmaker warned of challenging times ahead and that its second-half performance may be weaker as the economy slows.
“We are realistic that moving forward, the operating environment will be very challenging,” said chairman Datuk Mohd Azlan Hashim.
The Malaysian Automotive Association expects weaker car sales in the fourth quarter this year, due to stricter borrowing terms and consumers cutting back on spending.
Proton said it will continue to improve its operational efficiency and minimise costs.
Proton, in the second quarter to September 30, sold more than 44,000 vehicles, or 12 per cent more than the 39,888 units it sold in the same period last year. For the six-month period, unit sales jumped by 35 per cent to 84,565 units.
So far, there are no signs of sales declining drastically. Domestic bookings for Persona have reached 59,028 units, while Saga hit 91,127 units.
“There’s no significant drop in bookings yet,” said managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohd Tahir.
The company also announced the renewal of Syed Zainal’s contract although it is unclear if he will stay for another three years, which is the normal industry practice.
The terms of Syed Zainal’s new contract are still being worked out, Mohd Azlan said
Proton’s second-quarter net profit jumped to RM43.81 million, against RM3.51 million
a year ago. For the six months, its earnings grew to RM95.84 million, compared with a RM43.25 million net loss last year.
Second-quarter revenue jumped by 40 per cent to RM1.84 billion, while six-month revenue climbed 44.8 per cent to RM3.55 billion.
“With this encouraging result, the board is pleased to declare an interim dividend of five sen a share,” said Mohd Azlan.
Proton hopes that its soon-to-be-launched multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) will help cushion the rough times.
Syed Zainal said the launch of its MPV is “on track” and it is expected to be out in March next year.
“We are very excited. It opens a new segment for us, a segment that we’ve never been (in) before,” he added.