November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

NLEx’s net profit rises 16% in January-March

NLEX CORP., formerly Manila North Tollways Corp., on Thursday reported higher earnings in the first quarter driven by strong revenues amid higher traffic volume in the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx).

The tollways arm of the Metro Pacific Group said its consolidated net income reached P1.07 billion in the January to March period, 16% up compared to the P921.61 million posted during the first quarter of 2016.

“Income growth was driven by higher revenues on the back of sustained traffic growth across NLEx and SCTEx and lower cost of services,” NLEx said in a filing.

It said that average daily traffic for the NLEx reached 229,633 daily vehicle entries, higher by 7% versus the same period last year, while average daily traffic in SCTEx reached 51,128, 20% higher than the previous year.

The firm said based on historical traffic, the month of January is slightly below the normal average due to the end of the Christmas holidays, while traffic is “above the normal average” between February to May due to the summer holiday, which is traditionally a peak season for travel.

The volume growth pushed quarterly revenues -- derived mainly from toll fees -- up by 8% to P2.79 billion, from P2.59 billion recorded during the first quarter of 2016.

For the three-month period, it said toll revenues reached P2.74 billion, 7% higher from the P2.56 billion posted during the comparable period last year due to higher traffic volume. Non-toll revenues, meanwhile, rose 33% to P47.7 million from the P35.7 million recorded previously which the company attributed to higher income from toll service facilities and advertising revenues.

NLEX Corp. took over the SCTEx toll facilities, as well as operations and management in October 2015.

On Oct. 19, the parent company’s board of directors approved the change in the corporate name of Manila North Tollways Corp. to NLEX Corp. The Securities and Exchange Commission approved the change on Feb. 13.

Last year, the parent firm also approved the proposed merger between NLEX Corp. and Tollways Management Corp. (TMC), with NLEX Corp. as the surviving entity, part of efforts to streamline the processes and services of the two firms, as well as strengthen its fiscal position to undertake bigger projects. As of April 30, 2017, it is still awaiting SEC approval for the proposed merger.

NLEx is the concessionaire for the NLEx and the SCTEx projects as well as the Connector Road Project linking North Luzon Expressway and South Luzon Expressway. On the other hand, TMC is engaged in the operations and maintenance of tollways, its facilities, interchanges and related works, among others.

Shares in its parent Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) slipped by 16 centavos or 2.40% to close at P6.52 each on Thursday.

MPIC is one of three key Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific Co. Ltd., the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT, Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. -- Imee Charlee C. Delavin