Top China homebuilder Country Garden to book net loss for 2022

By Clare Jim and Donny Kwok

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Top Chinese property developer Country Garden Holdings said on Monday it expected to post its first net loss since listing in 2007 due to a sluggish property market and flagged a worse-than-feared drop in core profit.

China’s top homebuilder by sales was the latest in a growing list of developers that have warned they would report a loss or drop in profit for 2022 after being hit last year by a debt crisis and COVID-lockdowns that delayed or halted home-building.

Country Garden said in a filing its estimated net loss would be between 5.5 billion yuan to 7.5 billion yuan ($799 million to $1.09 billion), down from a 26.8 billion yuan profit in 2021.

It attributed the big loss to a drop in gross profit margin, a rise in provisions for impairments on property projects, and net foreign exchange losses it expected to report.

“The board is of the view that the above factors which affected profit are mainly in non-cash nature,” said Country Garden, adding its net debt ratio had long remained low and the company maintained a good credit record.

It said core net profit was expected to be in the range of 1 billion yuan to 3 billion yuan, still positive but down sharply from 26.9 billion yuan in 2021 and well below analysts’ forecasts for core profit around 9.3 billion yuan, according to SmartEstimate.

Smaller developer Logan Group Co Ltd also said it expected to record a net loss of 7 billion yuan to 9 billion yuan for 2022.

Shares of Country Garden fell as much as 5.5% in early trade but improved to trade down 1.8% by noon, while Logan fell 3.2%, underperforming a 0.3% drop in the Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index.

The profit warnings followed similar flags from peers CIFI Holdings and the property management unit of state-backed Greentown China, Greentown Service Group, on Friday.

“We expect to see more profit warnings for both China property and property management ahead,” said Raymond Cheng, head of China research at CGS-CIMB Securities Ltd.

He said results for the sector would vary, with state-owned or quality private firms set to report between a 15% drop and 20% gain in core profit, while troubled developers’ profits would fall at least 50% or slide to losses.

On Sunday, Sunac Services, the property services arm of major developer Sunac China, said it expected a net loss of up to 500 million yuan due to significant increases in the impairment provisions for money due from related parties.

Sunac Services and Greentown Service were down 1.7% and 2.6%, respectively. CIFI lost 3.9%.

($1 = 6.8808 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Kim Coghill, Bradley Perrett and Sonali Paul)