* H1 net underlying profit rises 13 pct to $1.7 billion
* Including exceptionals, H1 profit surges 129 pct
* Retail revenue up 9 pct; property revenue falls 33 pct
By Donny Kwok
HONG KONG, July 31 Hutchison Whampoa Ltd
, a retail-to-telecoms group owned by Asia's richest
man Li Ka-shing, posted a 13 percent rise in first-half
underlying profit, beating analyst estimates, thanks to its
growing European telecom and retail businesses.
Excluding exceptional items and property valuations,
underlying profit totalled HK$13.52 billion ($1.74 billion) in
January-June compared with HK$12.01 billion a year earlier,
Hutchison said on Thursday.
That beat expectations for an underlying profit of HK$13
billion, according to the average forecast of five analysts
polled by Reuters.
Including profits from the disposal of investments and
property revaluation, profit attributable to shareholders jumped
129 percent year-on-year to HK$28.44 billion, from HK$12.398
billion a year earlier.
"Generally improving trends first noted in the second half
of 2013 continued into 2014, leading to a constructive outlook
for the group's businesses overall for the second half of 2014,"
Chairman Li, whose empire spans commercial properties in Hong
Kong and China to telecommunications in Europe and energy in
Canada, said in a statement.
Li also said economic and political uncertainty will remain
a challenge for the remainder of 2014 but the group will
continue to seek sustainable recurring earnings growth and
maintain a strong financial and liquidity profile.
"I expect that the group will continue to meet these
objectives in the second half of 2014. I continue to have
confidence in the group's prospects," Li added.
Hutchison recorded good growth in its European telecoms
business, with a 3 percent gain in revenue and 23 percent
increase in earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) in 3
Hutchison saw revenue from its property and hotel division
fall 33 percent in the first half to HK$7.46 billion as
contributions from mainland projects declined, in line with a
sector slowdown. That compared with 21 percent growth a year
Hutchison reported 9 percent revenue growth in its retail
division in the first half. The division's health and beauty
operations in China grew 14 percent.
The conglomerate controls health and beauty retailer A.S.
Watson, which operates more than 11,500 stores across 31
Revenue from ports and related businesses grew 2 percent.
Hutchison was also helped by Cheung Kong Infrastructure
Holdings Ltd (CKI), also controlled by Li. CKI
reported half-year net profit of HK$24.12 billion. That was up
367 percent from a year earlier, thanks to increased profit
contribution from Hong Kong-listed Power Assets Holdings Ltd
The utility recorded a hefty gain from the sale of a stake
in the city's power supplier Hongkong Electric.
Husky Energy Inc, controlled by Li, also posted a 4
percent increase in second-quarter earnings, Canada's
third-largest integrated oil producer said earlier this month.
($1 = 7.7496 Hong Kong Dollars)
(Additional reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Ryan Woo)