Business / Markets

H1 earnings: Down a tad but still solid

By Cai Xiao (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-05 08:04

Interim results of the A-share companies for the first half showed earnings were strong, which could shore up market this year, experts said.

"A-share earnings growth in the first half has slowed but remained solid," said Gao Ting, head of China strategy at UBS Securities. "Given a high base in the same period last year, we see the level of growth as decent, which will likely shore up the market."

As of Aug 31, a total of 2,929 A-share companies had released their interim results for the first half. Their net earnings totaled 1.38 trillion yuan ($206.6 billion), down 4.7 percent year-on-year, according to data from the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Chinese companies listed on the Shenzhen bourse-most of them are small or medium enterprises or SMEs-led the A-share market with total net profit of over 244 billion yuan, up almost 6 percent year-on-year.

For investors grappling with an economy where many sectors are showing signs of stress, there were clear earnings improvement in the much-maligned bloated sectors like coal and steel.

The steel industry has swung to a profit. The fall in profits of construction materials firms has narrowed sharply, according to UBS.

But the banking sector's profits fell as lenders will likely be hit by a plan that will encourage banks to convert loans given to struggling borrowers into equity. The swap plan is expected to be rolled out within weeks.

Among lenders, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China posted the largest earnings in the first half of 150.2 billion yuan.

China Oilfield Services Ltd made the biggest loss of 8.4 billion yuan during the period.

UBS forecast China's non-financial earnings will increase by 7.5 percent this year, compared with a 5 percent fall in financial earnings.

Hong Hao, chief strategist at BOCOM International Holdings Co, said preliminary earnings of A-share companies in the first half are mostly in line with expectation. Barring the financial services sector, there is some growth.

"I think the earnings of A-share companies in the second half will be flat to slightly better than the first half, as the lagging effect from the dramatic credit creation in the first half starts to flow," said Hong.

New loans in the first half totaled 7.5 trillion yuan, up 15 percent year-on-year, according to July data from the People's Bank of China.

Hong said overall growth will be in single digits because banks will have zero or close to zero growth.

By Aug 31, 1,095 A-share companies forecast preliminary earnings for the first three quarters of the year. And 729 of them forecast that earnings will rise.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange said in a statement that companies listed on it pay attention to supply-side reform and operate their businesses well.

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