Economy May 03, 2014 00:00

By The Nation

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Big C Supercenter net down 10% in Q1

Big C Supercenter yesterday revealed a 10-per-cent drop in net profit year on year to Bt1.25 billion in the first quarter, blamed on the country’s political and economic difficulties.
Retail sales, however, rose by 2.7 per cent to Bt29.2 billion, along with a 7.8-per-cent increase to Bt2.26 billion in rental and service income.
Big C continued its store expansion in the first three months of the year, opening two new hypermarkets in Kanchanaburi and Nakhon Phanom, 17 Mini Big C outlets (six in Bangchak service stations), and two Pure Drugstores. The total number of stores at the end of March was 121 large-format stores (Big C Supercenter, Extra, and Jumbo), 30 Big C Markets, 295 Mini Big C outlets (68 in Bangchak service stations), and 134 Pure Drugstores.
LG Electronics profit surges
LG Electronics announced a 319-per-cent increase in first-quarter net profit compared with the same period last year. 
Net profit rose to 92.6 billion won (Bt2.9 million) while operating profit of 504 billion won marked a significant improvement from the previous quarter thanks to improved profitability from the LG Home Entertainment Company. 
Unaudited first-quarter consolidated revenues of 14.27 trillion won increased 1.2 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2013.
The LG Home Entertainment Co reported first-quarter revenues of 4.95 trillion won, a 3-per-cent increase from the first quarter a year ago. Operating profit of 240.3 billion won exceeded expectations thanks to stronger sales of larger TVs and better cost structure resulting from declining material prices. 
Revenues are expected to increase this second quarter with new model launches. LG will continue to diversity its premium TV line-ups with more sizes and price levels to offset greater competition.
The LG Mobile Communications Co shipped 12.3 million smartphones in the first quarter – comprising 75 per cent of all LG phones shipped – an increase of 19 per cent from the same period the previous year.
AEC contest
In preparation for the upcoming Asean Economic Community, the Trade Negotiations Department of the Commerce Ministry yesterday launched a competition called “AEC Business Plan” to encourage students nationwide to prepare for the seamless market.
Jintana Chaiyawonnagal, deputy director-general of the department, said the project would give students the opportunity to propose their ideas for educating people, particularly in the business sector, about the AEC. Students can propose business plans and marketing strategies and win Bt200,000 awards from the department.
People interested in participating can visit
MCOT president denies he has resigned
MCOT president Anek Permvongseni yesterday denied rumours that he had tendered his resignation.
The MCOT committee assigned to review his performance for the second half of 2013 is in the process of doing so.
Agencies undercut Chiang Mai hotels
The Tourism Council of Thailand has raised concerns about a strategy of Chinese tour agencies to save accommodation costs for travel to Chiang Mai province. 
Many of these agencies have arranged monthly rental of apartments in the province to accommodate their clients instead of in hotels. The TCT says this will lower the occupancy of many hotels in Chiang Mai.
TCT president Piyamarn Techapaiboon said that in response to a rapid increase in Chinese tourists who come to Chiang Mai on direct charter flights, local operators of apartments, which have not registered legally to comply with hotel regulations, serve clients on a daily basis and attract them by setting prices lower than hotel rates. This creates an oversupply of rooms and places legitimate hotels at a disadvantage.
“We have discussed this with local government agencies in Chiang Mai and [they] agreed that hotels and apartments that have violated the law should be evaluated and made to function under the same rules as legitimate ones. The market then will be balanced and individual tourists will be protected,” Piyamarn said.
Voucher amount defended
The broadcasting committee of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission yesterday denied that it would cost the NBTC too much to give away vouchers to 22 million households towards the purchase of digital-TV set-top boxes and antennas.
Recently consumer protection groups have said that if the NBTC finalises the voucher amount at Bt1,000 each, the regulator would have to spend Bt22 billion on them. They added that the actual price of a set-top boxes plus antenna was only around Bt500.
But broadcasting committee chairman Natee Sukonrat argued that Bt500 was the price of older, obsolete boxes. A new DVB-T2 digital-capable box costs more.
The committee has approved the voucher value of Bt1,000 but this awaits final approval of the board of the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Research and Development Fund for the Public Interest (BTFP) on Tuesday and of the NBTC board on May 12.
Natee said the NBTC would try to distribute the vouchers to households by July and hoped that the “NBTC Expo” planned for July 17-20 would be the first opportunity for people to use the vouchers to buy the boxes.
TRIS Rating has assigned solar-energy firm SPCG a company rating of “BBB+” and a rating of “BBB” to SPCG’s proposed issue of up to Bt4 billion in guaranteed and amortised debentures, with “stable” outlook. 
The ratings reflect the stable cash flows from SPCG’s investment portfolio comprising 36 solar-power projects. 
All of the projects have long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with the Provincial Electricity Authority, plus the adder tariff received as a producer of solar power under the very small power producer (VSPP) scheme. 
The “stable” outlook reflects the expectation that SPCG’s remaining five projects will commence operations as planned and the company will generate predictable EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amorisation) in a range of Bt3.5 billion to Bt3.55 billion per year. 
The ratings do not expect SPCG to make any sizeable investments without additional equity financing. If these assumptions hold, the debt-to-capitalisation ratio will improve as expected, the agency says.