VENTURES AFRICA – Kenya’s largest publicly traded investment company, Centum Investment Co. (CENTUM), has recorded a 48 percent drop in its net profits.
The Company’s net profit reduced from Sh2.3 billion ($27.4 million) last year to Sh1.1 billion ($13.1 million) this year.
This, according to the company’s Chief Executive Officer, James Mworia, was as a result of a depressed performance of the equity markets last year, which crippled earnings.
Mworia blamed the decline in the company’s profit to the ‘significant’ loss of value of its quoted investments.
Centum chief said “The year to March was a very challenging year with the NSE 20 share index falling by 13 per cent, cost of credit increased sharply to more than 20 per cent, the foreign currency market experienced wild gyrations and liquidity was very tight throughout most of the year.”
He however projected that with the increased geographical diversification and increased investment in the real estate sector, the company will be able to recover from its present loss.
In May, this year, Centum made a public call for high net-worth investors to put their money into a Sh30 billion ($357 million) property fund as part of the firm’s strategy to angle for a larger share of eastern Africa’s real estate market and reduce reliance on the volatile equities market.
The surge in the real estate sector, fuelled by swelling incomes and large number of rural-urban migration in the region, is seen as the rationale behind Centum Investment and its competitor’s billion shillings investments in the East Africa’s real estate market.
Meanwhile, on the Nairobi exchange, Centum shares dropped 2.7 percent to Sh14.35, heading for the lowest close since April 16, after full-year earnings fell by almost half.