Singaporean property investor Ho Bee Land has been reaping the rewards of its gear shift this decade, playing up office space leasing and shying away from selling residential developments.
Revenues in the first quarter shot up by 20 percent to $37.2 million, with net profits jumping 59.8 percent to $18.5 million. The bulk of the gains were made on the back of recurring rental income from a trio of commercial properties acquired in London in 2015.
“We are seeing the recurring-income strategy bearing fruit,” Chong Hock Chang, Ho Bee’s Associate Director, told Forbes. “Our income stream is sustainable.”
Amid a depressed Singaporean property market, Ho Bee founder and CEO Chua Thian Poh has been weaning his company off residential development, premised on the outlook that the market will recover in two to three years. Today, Ho Bee’s portfolio is comprised of two-thirds commercial, with rental income mainly buttressing its revenues in 2014 and 2015.
Three of its high-end residential projects in Sentosa Cove are now off the market.
It is a far cry from Ho Bee’s beginnings as a residential juggernaut, reaching an apex in 1993 with its Southaven development around Bukit Timah Hill. From then until 2010, two-thirds of Ho Bee’s portfolio was composed of residential.
Chua was one of the first Singapore-based developers to branch out of the country, beginning with a London investment that inadvertently insulated him from the Asian Financial Crisis the following year.
“We learned from the Asian Financial Crisis,” Chua told Forbes. “Spread the risk. Don’t rely on a single market. Diversify.”
Singapore’s property market may be in the doldrums, but analysts are hoping the city-state’s relatively low home-price-to-income ratio would tip the scales against Hong Kong and other Asian markets.
“Singapore looks quite inexpensive. I am actually surprised it hasn’t yet turned,” Chris Fossick, Managing Director at JLL for Singapore and Southeast Asia, told Forbes.