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The Week in Numbers: Hyflux Rescue on the Cards?

In another twist to the Hyflux (SGX: 600) saga, the embattled company revealed that United Arab Emirates utility company Utico FZC could potentially give Hyflux a S$400 million investment. The water treatment firm said it received a non-binding letter of intent from Utico FZC last week. Utico plans to keep Hyflux’s key entities and operation intact and reach an “amicable” deal with creditors and investors.

It was another busy earnings week in Singapore this week. Insurance company, Great Eastern Holdings Limited’s (SGX: G07) net profit for the first quarter more than doubled to S$342.7 million, driven by higher investment returns from favourable market conditions. However, operating profit from its insurance business declined 8% to S$150 million.

United Overseas Bank Ltd  (SGX: U11) saw a 6% increase in net profit on the back of an 8% rise in total income. Net interest income increased 8%, while net fee and commission income declined 7%.

It was another disappointing quarter for Sembcorp Marine Ltd  (SGX: S51), which saw its net profit fall 67.8% to S$1.7 million. Revenue was down 31.3% due to lower sales from rigs and floaters and offshore platform projects.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s manufacturing growth slowed to a two-year low in April. Singapore’s Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a key barometer of manufacturing activity, was 50.3, down from 50.8 in March. Most notably, the PMI of the electronics sector was 49.5, down from 0.3 from March. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. It was the sixth straight month of decreases for the electronics sector.

Hong Kong private home prices rose 2.9% in March, its fastest pace in over two years. It was also the third straight rise and accelerated from February’s 1.6% increase. Hong Kong home prices fell from August to December last year, due to the United States-China trade tensions and rising interest rates, but have rebounded in the first quarter of this year.

Property consultancy CBRE said that Hong Kong is the most expensive housing market for the eighth consecutive year with an average property costing US$1.2 million or US$2,091 per square foot. Singapore is the second most expensive place to buy a property at US$874,372 and US$1,063 per square foot.

Beyond Meat Inc broke a decade-long record as its shares nearly tripled on its first day of trading in the US. The maker of vegan beef and sausage products saw its share price surge 163%, the best debut of any US listing since 2008 that raised at least US$200 million. The California-based firm valued itself at US$1.5 billion at its opening but ended the day with a valuation of US$3.38 billion.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc conducted its annual shareholder meeting this week. One of the key concerns for shareholders this year was the company’s succession planning. Buffett is 88 and vice chairman, Charlie Munger is 95. When asked about succession planning, Buffett pointed out that deputies Greg Abel and Ajit Jain were at the meeting available to take questions. In typical Buffett down to earth fashion, Buffett told shareholders:

“The truth is Charlie and I are afraid of looking bad. Those guys (Abel and Jain) are better than we are. They know the businesses better, they work harder by far, and you are absolutely invited to ask questions to be directed over to them at this meeting.”

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia owns Berkshire Hathaway Inc Class B shares. The Motley Fool Singapore recommends Berkshire Hathaway and United Overseas Bank Ltd