The bottom line was down 106% from the group profit of Rs.1.85 billion posted for the comparative quarter a year earlier.
Guardian Fund Management Limited, the company’s investment managers, explained in an operations report that the negative result was due to provisioning in the equity portfolio.
"Ceylon Guardian being primarily a long term equity investor holds approximately 85% of its balance sheet asset value in the form of an equity portfolio and hence during a market downturn this manner of provisioning is not unusual," the managers explained.
They pointed out that barring the strategic investment in Bukit Darah PLC, a company with a significant stake in Carson Cumberbatch, the group’s actively managed portfolio comprising Rs.8.62 billion in equity and Rs.1.11 billion in cash equivalent had declined 6.52% during the period under review compared with the market dip of 8.38% on the CSE.
"Along with the strategic holding expressed at market value amounting to Rs.15.8 billion, the decline in the portfolio was 8.46%," the managers said.
They said that despite the market volatility currently being experienced, as long-term equity market participant, Ceylon Guardian was confident that the equity growth prospects of the industries and companies in which it had invested will over time accrue superior returns."Equity as an asset class is more vulnerable to outside forces and therefore our position of maintaining cash reserves to benefit from the present high interest rates scenario is justified, until such time as we see a reversal in market sentiment to start deploying that cash back into equities," the managers said.
They added that new businesses such as private equity and unit trusts are experiencing lower than anticipated rates of growth due to the prevailing down turn.
Both fund raising for unit trust business and securing a high quality project pipeline for the private equity business have not been forthcoming due to poor investor sentiment presently prevailing and the relatively high rates of interest, they said.
"However, we continue to exert management effort on business development for future potential gains," they added.
The managers pointed out that from shareholder perspective, net asset value per share of Ceylon Guardian Investment Trust at market value stood at Rs.241.31 – well above the prevailing market price of Rs.160 for the share. The decline in the share price for the three months under review was 33.7% which was higher than the corresponding fall in the All Share Price Index, they noted.
At company level Ceylon Guardian posted first quarter revenue of Rs.70.5 million, down 93% from Rs.1.06 billion a year earlier and a small profit of Rs.16.2 million, down 98% from the first quarter result a year earlier.
The Ceylon Guardian group’s earnings per share translated to a loss of Rs.0.88 against a profit of Rs.19.44 a year earlier while at company level earnings per share stood at Rs.0.18 against Rs.11.34 during the comparative quarter the previous year.
The company has a stated capital of Rs.953.17 million, group capital reserves of Rs.1.8 billion and group revenue reserves of Rs.9.2 billion. The company’s capital reserve stood at Rs.208.7 million and revenue reserves at Rs.3.9 billion.
Total group assets ran at Rs.14.34 billion (Rs.5.6 billion for the company) and total group liabilities Rs.662.9 million (company Rs.514.6 million).
Guardian had a carrying value of Rs.3.8 billion of its share in net assets of Bukit Darah, its associate.
The Guardian long-term investments are concentrated in companies quoted in the diversified sector (Rs.3.34 billion), banks, finance and insurance (Rs.1.9 billion and beverage, food and tobacco (Rs.1.2 billion).
Carson Cumberbatch with 67.15%, Thurston Investments (6.43%), Mr. M. Radhakrishnan (2.48%), GF Capital Global (1.51%) and the ETF Board (1.06%) are the major shareholders of Guardian.
The Guardian share traded at a high of Rs.231 and a low of Rs.147 during the quarter under review.
The directors of the company are: Messrs. I. Paulraj (Chairman), D.C.R. Gunwardena, A.de Z. Gunasekera, V.M. Fernando, K. Selvanathan, C.W. Knight and Mrs. M.A.R.C. Cooray.