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China's listed firms report higher earnings amid economic restructuring

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-01 17:14
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BEIJING — Listed companies in China reported rapid profit growth in the first half of this year (H1), as the country's structural reform began to bear results.

A total of 3,341 listed companies on the country's two major exchanges reported combined revenue of 18.12 trillion yuan ($2.75 trillion), up 24.1 percent year-on-year, according to data compiled by, a financial data provider.

Combined profits attributable to shareholders totaled 1.67 trillion yuan, up 21.12 percent year-on-year.

More than 600 companies saw their profit growth double, while 362 companies saw their profits up 50 to 100 percent.

The country's four biggest commercial banks all posted faster profit growth in H1, attributed to improved services and strengthened risk control.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the largest lender by market value, saw its net profit attributable to equity holders rise 1.8 percent year-on-year to 153 billion yuan in H1, higher than the 0.8-percent rise in the same period of last year.

The growth came amid tightened financial regulations this year that aimed to curb shadow banking and control risks arising from activities such as off-balance sheet financing.

Assets quality of the banks has improved notably. By the end of June, the non-performing loan ratio for ICBC stood at 1.57 percent, down from 1.62 percent six months earlier. The ratio for Agricultural Bank of China, another major bank, also dropped 0.18 percentage points to 2.19 percent.

While a stabilizing economy and the country's ongoing structural reform have contributed to high profits and better assets quality, the improvements were also a result of rising profitability of cyclical industries including coal and steel, which eased bad loan pressure on the banks, China Merchants Securities said.

When excluding nonrecurring items, sectors such as mining and steel were among the most profitable industries in H1. The mining sector, as classified by SWS Research, saw profits surge 442.92 percent year-on-year, while the steel sector went up 302.56 percent.

Shanxi Xishan Coal and Electricity saw net profit growth of 739 percent in H1 due to rising coal prices and expanded output.

Nanjing Iron and Steel witnessed a net profit surge of 730 percent, as China continues to slash excess steel capacity causing product prices to increase.

"The profit growth of coal and steel-related listed companies is the result of deeper supply-side structural reform, which improves the business environment and productivity," said Gui Haoming, chief analyst of Shenwan Hongyuan.

China has been implementing the supply-side structural reform to address outstanding issues like excess capacity, housing overhang, and "zombie" State-owned enterprises (SOEs) with poor profitability.

Amid the reform, combined profits of China's SOEs gained 23.1 percent year-on-year to 1.66 trillion yuan during January-July, according to data released by the Ministry of Finance.

New growth drivers also emerged. Companies in the artificial intelligence (AI) sector reported strong performance in H1, with half of them posting a rise of over 30 percent in net profits attributable to equity holders.

Companies related to the internet of things were also among the winners. Some 16 listed firms, including Qingdao Haier, a major household appliance maker, saw their earnings up more than 20 percent.

"Emerging industries such as the AI are where global investors are now putting their money, as these industries will replace many existing industries in the future," said Yang Zhonghua, a fund manager at Fortunegate Capital Management.

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