China Focus: Listed firms post robust profit growth thanks to improving economy

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-01 17:02:37|Editor: xuxin
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BEIJING, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The total net profit of publicly traded Chinese firms rose 11.22 percent in 2007, boosted by an improving economy.

Every listed firm on the A-share markets but one had released their financial results for 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 by Sunday.

Total revenue of the 3,204 listed firms reached 32.51 trillion yuan (4.72 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2016, up 10.21 percent year on year, compared with just 1.13 percent year-on-year growth in 2015.

About 70 percent of the listed firms reported net profit growth for 2016, with 620 having more than doubling net profits.

Firms in upstream sectors such as coal and steel were big winners. The steel sector suffered losses in Q1 2016, but turned to profit in the following three quarters.

The government launched a campaign of supply-side reform last year to cut excess capacity in steel and coal, leading to rising prices that helped boost financial performance.

However, listed firms in machinery, fossil fuels and finance reported slower profit growth in 2016.

The Chinese economy expanded 6.7 percent in 2016, the slowest growth rate in over a quarter of a century. It grew 6.9 percent in Q1, well above the annual growth target of around 6.5 percent.

Financial statements showed that net profit of listed firms grew 19.8 percent in Q1, adding to signs that the world's second largest economy is firming up.

China's major industrial firms reported a 23.8-percent year-on-year profit growth last month, slowing from 31.5 percent in January and February but much faster than the 8.5-percent increase in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

However, it is not known if the strong growth momentum can be sustained, as China's manufacturing and non-manufacturing activities both softened expansion in April.

The manufacturing purchasing managers' index came in at 51.2 in April, lower than the 51.8 recorded in March, while the index for non-manufacturing stood at 54, down from 55.1 in March.

Commodity prices such as steel, coal, as well as midstream products such as chemical fiber all saw notable corrections in April, partially driven by financial deleveraging, said investment firm China International Capital Corporation (CICC) in a research note.

China has recently stepped up efforts to contain asset bubbles and financial risks, including real estate controls in some cities, as a stabilizing economy provides more room for tightened policies.

Improving efficiency of supply is a sustainable way for enterprises to make profit and it is imperative to stick to deleveraging and give up on government bail-outs, according to Jiang Chao, chief economist with Haitong Securities.

"China should deleverage its economy at a proper pace to ensure the financial sector is under pressure to keep reducing leverage while avoiding being pushed into any systemic financial risks," Xu Zhong, head of the research bureau of the People's Bank of China, wrote in the latest edition of Caijing Magazine.

Overly fast deleveraging might lead to shrinking credit and deflation, hurting the real economy, according to Xu.

Although the market has been concerned about the potential spill-over to real economic growth from ongoing regulatory tightening, April monetary data may indicate improved policy coordination and an overall moderate pace of monetary tapering relative to the strength of the economy, the CICC note said.