KUALA LUMPUR (Nikkei Markets) -- Malaysian automotive-to-logistics conglomerate DRB-Hicom said Thursday its net loss narrowed sharply in fiscal fourth quarter from a year earlier, helped by decline in operating expenses.
Net loss for the three months ended Mar. 31 totalled 10.27 million ringgit ($2.58 million) compared with 329.57 million ringgit loss in the same period last year, the company said in an exchange filing. Quarterly revenue dropped 12.1% year-on-year to 3.06 billion ringgit from 3.48 billion ringgit a year ago, dragged by lower sales of Proton vehicles.
"With stronger economic growth seen in 2018 and positive spillover into domestic economic activity, the group's overall businesses are expected to improve as well," DRB-Hicom said. "The group is cautiously optimistic for the financial year ending March 2019."
DRB-Hicom has been restructuring some of its businesses internally for more than two years as the company grapples with an industry-wide slump in vehicle sales in Malaysia that weighed on its mainstay automotive business.
In March, the company signed an agreement to dispose 10 property assets held by various subsidiaries for 1.43 billion ringgit. Last year, the company sold 49.9% stake in carmaker Proton to China's Zhejiang Geely Holdings in a deal worth 460.3 million ringgit.
For the full fiscal year, DRB-Hicom swung to a net profit of 498.44 million ringgit, from 456.64 million ringgit loss a year ago, while revenue rose 6.1% to 12.79 billion ringgit. The company also declared a first and final dividend payment of three sen per share.
"The group's automotive sector aims to enhance its performance through launches of new models and facelifts by marques within its stable," DRB-Hicom said. Apart from Proton, the company also assembles vehicles for brands such as Mercedes Benz, Suzuki, and Isuzu.
For the next financial year, DRB-Hicom said it expects faster growth at its aerospace division, which is expanding its composite manufacturing arm, while its property division will have leaner portfolio focusing on industrial land once the disposals of non-industrial assets are completed.
"Services sector will continue its momentum with logistics, banking and concession businesses remaining as the key growth contributors," DRB-Hicom added.
To cut reliance on automotive business, DRB-Hicom have previously stated its aim to raise the share of services in its revenue to 50% by 2021 from less than 20% in 2016. DRB-Hicom's various services units operate airport ground services, vehicle inspection, waste disposal, and an Islamic bank.
Shares of DRB-Hicom ended 0.6% higher at 1.75 ringgit apiece, while the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI closed 1.2% higher.
-- Alexander Winifred and Jason Ng