Malaysian International Shipping Corp. (MISC), the world's largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier, said it expects profits in fiscal 2002 to be higher than 2001. "Despite the slowdown in the world economy, we are confident we can move ahead," said managing director Mohd Ali Yasin.
MISC, part of state oil firm Petronas, earlier announced a net profit of $363 million, or 74.3 cents earnings a share, in the year ended March 2001, slightly above market expectations.
Comparative figures were not available due to a change in its financial year-end from December to March.
Multex Global Estimates net profit consensus for 2001 was 1.33 billion ringgit or 71.7 cents earnings a share. On an annualized basis, MISC said profits were up about 25 percent, helped by increased freight rates, better resource allocation and cost management.
Mohd Ali said LNG operations contributed
80 percent of the company's profit and 40 percent of total revenue of 5.85 billion ringgit. He expects continued strong demand for LNG from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, adding that global LNG demand
is estimated to grow by six percent a year until 2005.
He said MISC's LNG fleet
, already the largest in the world, will rise to 19 by 2005 with the purchase of an additional six. The first delivery is due next year. Mohd Ali said 40 percent of the total cost of acquiring the new vessels would be financed by internal funds, but he declined to say how much the vessels would cost.
Analysts estimated the average cost of each vessel at $175 million.
Asked if MISC was planning to issue bonds to finance the fleet expansion, Mohd Ali said the company would make a decision after it was rated by rating agencies Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service. The Malaysian flag carrier is undertaking an international rating exercise.
"By August hopefully we will be rated by S&P and Moody's. Only after then we will decide whether to go for any bond issue
," Mohd Ali said. - (Reuters)