OPERATIONS AND FINANCIAL REVIEW

Revenue

The Group recorded turnover of US$759.0 million for the full year ended 31 December 2023 (“FY2023”), a decrease of 16% compared to US$906.7 million for the same period last year (“FY2022”).

Turnover for the electronic components distribution business declined 21% to US$669.0 million due to lower sales across most of the regions in Asia, notably Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, attributable to weak demand from both the consumer and industrial markets and overstocking in the supply chain.

Turnover for the consumer products distribution business increased by 45% to US$81.9 million, driven by higher sales in Thailand and Malaysia, helped by existing as well as new product lines onboarded during FY2023.

Turnover for other businesses increased by 12% to US$8.0 million due to higher revenue from the medical device assembly and distribution business in Singapore.


Profit Margins

Overall gross profit margin declined 0.3 percentage point to 7.8% from 8.1% in FY2022, mainly due to lower margins achieved by the electronic components and consumer products distribution business divisions, amid pricing pressures due to weak demand and keen market competition. Sales of older inventories at lower margin also contributed to the decline in margin achieved by these two divisions.

Other Operating Income

Other operating income decreased by US$5.2 million or 48% to US$5.7 million. One-off gains on re-measurement of associated company to financial assets, at fair value through profit or loss of U$2.3 million and disposal of interests in associated companies of US$0.4 million in FY2022 and lower gain on dilution of interests in associated companies of U$1.0 million, recovery of trade bad debts previously written off of US$0.9 million and government grants received of US$0.3 million in FY2023 when compared to FY2022 contributed mainly to the decline in other operating income.


Expenses

The Group recorded a decrease in distribution expenses of US$6.4 million, or 15%, to US$37.0 million, mainly due to lower sales commission expense, staff and related costs, and freight and handling charges associated with the electronic components distribution business in line with its decrease in sales.

Administrative expenses increased by US$0.2 million or 2% to US$9.9 million, mainly due to higher utility costs, office rental and maintenance costs.

Finance expenses increased by US$5.0 million or 54% to US$14.4 million, mainly due to higher interest rates across all bank facilities in FY2023 compared with FY2022.

Other operating expenses decreased by US$5.9 million or 21% to US$21.9 million. The decrease was mainly due to lower foreign exchange loss (net) of US$3.5 million attributed to lower depreciation of the Chinese Renminbi against the United States Dollar, allowances for inventory obsolescence of US$2.5 million, fair value loss on financial assets, at fair value through profit or loss (listed securities and derivative financial instruments) of US$1.0 million, impairment loss on investments in associated companies of US$0.6 million and staff and related costs of US$0.6 million when compared to FY2022. The decrease was partially offset by higher loss allowance on trade and non-trade receivables of US$2.0 million in FY2023.

The Group’s associated companies contributed a net profit of US$66,000 as compared to net loss of US$0.8 million in FY2022. The Group shared a profit of US$104,000 from 14.28%-owned Bull Will Co., Ltd., partially offset by share of loss of US$38,000 from 15.90%-owned PT Sentral Mitra Informatika Tbk. in FY2023. In FY2022, the net loss of US$0.8m was mainly due to share of loss of US$0.7m from 15.83%-owned associated company, Otsaw Digital Pte Ltd which was reclassified to financial assets, at fair value through profit or loss as at end of FY2022.

Net Loss

The Group reported a higher net loss of US$14.8 million in FY2023 as compared to net loss of US$4.6 million in FY2022. The loss in FY2023 was mainly attributed to loss allowance on trade receivables of US$3.9 million, foreign exchange loss (net) of US$3.1 million, allowances for inventory obsolescence of US$2.2 million, and higher interest expenses impacted by the high interest rates.

Assets

The Group’s cash and cash equivalents stood at US$37.1 million as of 31 December 2023, compared to US$36.0 million as of 31 December 2022.

Trade and other receivables decreased by US$18.3 million (net of factored trade receivables) to US$160.0 million. This was mainly attributed to the lower sales achieved by the Group’s electronic components distribution subsidiaries and lower project financing undertaken by the Thailand subsidiaries. Higher trade and other receivables from higher sales in the Group’s consumer products distribution subsidiaries partially offset the decrease in trade and other receivables in FY2023. Average turnover days for trade receivables increased to 82 in FY2023 from 70 in FY2022.

Inventories decreased by US$36.4 million to US$126.6 million. This was mainly due to lower inventories purchased and held by the Group’s electronic components distribution and consumer products distribution subsidiaries from more prudent inventory management and clearance of older inventories. Average turnover days for inventories increased to 75 in FY2023 from 65 in FY2022.

Other current assets of US$10.3 million comprised prepayments to suppliers for purchase of inventories of US$7.1 million, cash security deposit of US$0.4 million placed with financial institution for loan, office rental deposits of US$0.4 million, and other miscellaneous deposits and prepaid operating and financial expenses totalling US$2.4 million.

Liabilities

Trade and other payables decreased by US$31.0 million to US$70.8 million. This was in line with the decline in purchases by the Group’s electronic components distribution subsidiaries. Average payment days for trade payables remained the same at 30 in FY2023 and FY2022.

Borrowings decreased by US$9.9 million to US$194.3 million. This was mainly due to lower bank borrowings by the Group’s electronic components distribution subsidiaries following the decline in purchases.

Share Capital

Serial System’s total number of issued shares as of 31 December 2022 was 904,841,914 (excluding treasury shares of 946,000), unchanged from the same period a year earlier.

Dato’ Seri Dr. Derek Goh Bak Heng BBM(L)
Group Chief Executive Officer
March 2024