China retail in focus as Hong Kong shares enter earnings peak season
HONG KONG, March 25
HONG KONG, March 25 (Reuters) - Hong Kong shares could start the week higher on Monday, with Chinese retailers in focus as sector bellwethers such as Belle, GOME and Li Ning post their 2012 results.
Li Ning is expected to report a net loss of close to 1.1 billion yuan ($177 million) on Monday, according to Thomson Reuters SmartEstimate, after spending as much as $288 million to buy back unwanted inventory from its distributors. Turnover is forecast to have dropped 16 percent last year to around 7.5 billion yuan.
Other notable corporate earnings expected on Monday include Agile Property, China Longyuan Power, Datang International Power, Henderson Land and PICC Group.
Combined profits of China's state-owned firms rose 9.7 percent in the first two months of 2013 from a year earlier, data showed on Friday, a sign of gradual economic recovery as profits had fallen 5.8 percent last year from 2011.
But China's economy is struggling with surplus production capacity and risks to the financial system, Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Sunday, warning that failure to extend reforms would consign the country to years of low-quality growth.
Separately, China should increase its home ownership tax on those with three or more properties to target speculators, Hu Cunzhi, vice minister of Land and Resources said on Saturday.
The Hang Seng Index shed 0.5 percent to 22,115.3 on Friday, while the China Enterprises Index of the top Chinese listings in Hong Kong slipped 0.4 percent. On the week, they lost 1.9 and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Elsewhere in Asia on Monday, Japan's Nikkei was up 1.2 percent, while South Korea's KOSPI was up 1.4 percent at 0038 GMT.
FACTORS TO WATCH:
* China Petroleum and Chemical Corp , which reported a 12.8 percent fall in 2012 net profit due to a drop in revenues from its upstream and chemicals businesses, has agreed to set up a joint venture with its parent company to buy $3 billion worth of oil and gas assets held by the latter in a bid to improve its profitability.
* China Construction Bank, the country's No.2 lender, said its 2012 net profit rose 14 percent, its slowest annual profit growth as a publicly listed company, hit by the country's attempts to rein in state-owned lenders' profitability.
* China Shenhua Energy Co Ltd , the country's largest coal producer, posted a 6.6 percent rise in 2012 net profit, roughly in line with forecasts, despite stagnating coal demand as the firm leveraged its integrated business model.
* BYD Co Ltd said it expected to book between 100-140 million yuan ($16.10-22.54 million) net income in January-March, up sharply from 27 million yuan a year earlier, thanks largely to rising car sales.
* Commodities trading house Glencore is shunting more of the world's surplus copper into the Malaysian port of Johor, extending a strategy to lock up metal to earn lucrative warehouse rentals and premiums, industry sources say.
* CNOOC Ltd, which last month completed a $15.1 billion takeover of Canada's Nexen, has been hit by a Canadian oil glut that is depressing prices for Canadian crude, a senior executive said on Friday.
* Anhui Conch Cement said its 2012 net profit declined 45 percent from a year earlier to 6.3 billion yuan.
* China National Building Material said 2012 net profit dropped 30.4 percent from a year earlier to 5.6 billion yuan.
* China Pacific Insurance (Group) Co Ltd said its 2012 net profit fell 39 percent to 5.1 billion yuan.
* China Yurun Food Group said it posted a 2012 net loss of HK$605 million.
* Sinopharm Group Co Ltd, China's largest pharmaceutical products distributor, said its 2012 net profit surged 26 percent to 1.97 billion yuan.