May 21, 2020 / 6:03 AM / 14 days ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Abu Dhabi's Aldar Q1 profit down 39%, warns virus could delay project launches

(Corrects percentage drop in pre-construction sales, paragraph 3)

DUBAI, May 21 (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi developer Aldar Properties reported a 39% fall in first-quarter profit on Thursday and warned it could delay new project launches due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state-linked builder of Abu Dhabi’s Formula One circuit made 302 million dirhams ($82.2 million) in the three months to March 31, compared to 493 million dirhams a year earlier.

That was mainly due to a one-off write down in the value of recurring income assets, it said, while a 68% fall in pre-construction sales to 333 million dirhams was because no new projects were launched in the first quarter. Revenue was flat at 1.76 billion dirhams.

Aldar cautioned that though the virus outbreak would affect its operating environment for this year, the lasting impact was still unclear.

“We are in a very strong position to navigate this uncertainty because of our diversified business model, low debt level, strong cash position and the underlying strength of the Abu Dhabi economy,” Chief Financial Officer Greg Fewer said on a post-earnings call.

However, because of the market situation the developer was reassessing the timing and phasing of its planned launches, Fewer said.

Aldar has had to temporarily close or limit retail and hospitality operations due to government restrictions related to curbing the virus spread, though those rules have been eased in recent weeks.

$1 = 3.6728 UAE dirham Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Tom Hogue and Shounak Dasgupta

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