Kenya’s Centum Investment swings to H1 pretax loss on pandemic impact

By George Obulutsa

NAIROBI, Nov 27 (Reuters)Kenya’s Centum Investment Company CTUM.NR said on Friday it swung to a loss in the first half, due to pandemic-induced market uncertainty, though lean performances were offset by its cash and marketable securities holdings.

The firm, which owns shares in listed and non-listed companies in the manufacturing, banking and publishing sectors, marked pretax loss of 2.05 billion shillings ($18.67 million) in the first half from a 7.72 billion shilling profit in the year-ago period.

Centum said income for the six months ended Sept. 30 fell to 433.5 million shillings from 12.4 billion shillings last year.

“The six-month period … was an extremely challenging one against a backdrop of COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty and business disruption,” the company said in a statement.

Centum said its net asset value per share fell to 68.14 shillings from 71.29 shillings in the same period in 2019, when its pretax profit trebled.

The company had earlier said it was confident it would withstand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to its holdings in cash and marketable securities and minimal exposure to listed firms.

In the period under review, its cash and marketable securities stood at 8.3 billion shillings, with most of it invested in fixed income securities.

“The switch to fixed income securities significantly enhanced our interest income, further cushioning the income statement from the decline in dividend income as portfolio companies cut dividend to preserve cash,” it said.

Centum is closely watched by investors on the Nairobi Securities Exchange as it is the only investment company that offers exposure to opportunities such as shopping mall developments and listed and unlisted companies across East Africa.

It said its earnings per share fell to 2.09 shillings from 10.70 shillings last year.

($1 = 109.8000 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Omar Mohammed and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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