TalkMed's Q4 net profit falls 19.3% to S$8.24m on fewer patient visits

CATALIST-listed healthcare provider TalkMed Group, whose CEO and main revenue contributor was suspended by the Singapore Medical Council last year, saw fourth-quarter net profit fall 19.3 per cent to S$8.24 million from S$10.2 million a year ago.

This translated to an earnings per share of 0.63 Singapore cent for the quarter, from 0.78 Singapore cent in the year-ago period. Revenue for the three months ended Dec 31 was down by 17.6 per cent to S$15.15 million, from S$18.38 million in the year-ago period, the group announced on Tuesday night after market close.

For the full year, the group's revenue fell by 11 per cent to S$61.36 million, leading to a 14.3 per cent drop in earnings to S$32.04 million.

The fall in revenue for both the final quarter and full year was attributed mainly to a decrease in the number of patient visits as compared to the preceding year, said the group, which provides healthcare services in the fields of medical oncology and palliative care.

While revenue from its 60 per cent owned subsidiary, Stem Med increased by S$1.29 million for the year, revenue from its operations in Vietnam fell by S$0.16 million to S$0.24 million in fiscal year 2017.

Commenting on its results, TalkMed said the group is facing pressure on revenue from the competition arising from lower medical costs in neighbouring countries as well as Dr Ang Peng Tiam's eight-month suspension from end July 2017, which will have a material impact on the group's revenue and earnings.

In July last year, the group's chief executive officer, Dr Ang, was suspended by the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) after a failed appeal against a conviction of professional misconduct and a S$25,000 fine. Dr Ang, a prominent cancer specialist, easily accounts for 40 per cent to 50 per cent of TalkMed's revenue.

In 2010, two daughters of a former patient had made a complaint against Dr Ang. The SMC's disciplinary tribunal found Dr Ang guilty of two of the charges: That he made false representation to the patient who was suffering from lung cancer that there was a "70 per cent" chance of responding to the treatment he suggested, and that he failed to offer her surgery as an option.

TalkMed has recommended a final one-tier tax exempt dividend of 1.37 Singapore cents per share, down from 2.283 Singapore cents per share in the year-ago period. If approved by the company's shareholders at an annual general meeting to be held on April 24, the proposed final dividend will be paid out on May 9, TalkMed said.

Its shares closed at S$0.675 apiece on Tuesday, unchanged from the previous day's close.