Temasek-backed SATS plunges on macro headwinds, Jet Airways

Thousands of passengers have been stranded after Jet cancelled flights because it could not pay its bills. (AFP pic)

SINGAPORE: Singapore airline services provider, SATS Ltd., plunged after it reported a drop in earnings due to global macro headwinds and suspension of an Indian airline.

Shares of SATS plunged as much as 5.6% on Friday, the most in nearly seven years. The provider of in-flight meals and ground-handling services, considered a bellwether of global economy, announced Thursday that June quarter profits were down 14.4% on year, impacted by the suspension of Jet Airways India Ltd.’s operations and lower cargo volumes due to global trade uncertainties.

In a call with analysts following the earnings release, chief executive officer Alexander Charles Hungate said the company is trying to fill the gap left behind by Jet Airways with other airlines such as Vistara, a Tata Sons-Singapore Airlines joint venture slated to start flights to Singapore in August. Temasek Holdings Pte. holds a 39.9% stake in the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Hopefully we’ll recover over the next quarter or so as other airlines fill in the demand gap left by Jet,” said Hungate, adding this recovery will be helped by growth in passenger and airline traffic. SATS will significantly ramp up its cargo handling volume in Malaysia next year, he noted.

Credit Suisse Group AG analysts expect negative earnings revisions and “a reset of investor expectations” to weigh on SATS, particularly with its shares at a near all-time high valuation, and given weakening macroeconomic indicators weighing on volumes.

The stock is trading at 21.3 times earnings for the next 12 months, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.