Sta. Lucia Land Inc. (SLI) saw its earnings in the first nine months of the year exceed its full 2021 net income, amid a stronger demand for its residential projects.
The publicly listed company recently revealed that its net income grew by 55.53 percent to P2.87 billion as of end September, compared to the P1.845 billion it recorded in the same period last year.
For full year 2021, the property developer posted what was then its record high net income of P2.84 billion, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Gross revenues meanwhile rose by 30.7 percent to P7.5 billion as of end September this year.
According to Exequiel Robles, SLI president, this performance can be attributed to the rising demand for residential properties that offer wide open spaces, farms, beachfront lots, access to world class golf courses and other themed communities during the pandemic.
Bouncing back from adversity
Speaking to Manila Standard, Robles expressed confidence that the real estate industry, the horizontal development sector at least, has bounced back from the economic effects of the pandemic.
He credits this to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who make up a big part of their market. Steady payments and new business from this sector have provided this local developer relatively calm waters over the past three years despite the initial wave of unemployed OFWs coming home in 2020-2021.
While 2020-2022 were years of survival and eventual return to normal for Sta. Lucia Realty, Robles hopes that 2023 will then be a year of growth for the company and the country.
“In my opinion, by the year 2023, we will recover,” he declared. “But this depends on the support of the government. It is the government that gives out support like making it easier to obtain permits. Its rules and regulations should really help us developers and other industries affected by the pandemic to recover.”
Nevertheless, Robles looks forward to the year with much optimism.
“But of course, we can’t predict luck,” he pointed out. “In 2020, a volcano erupted. This was followed by the pandemic.
There were typhoons. You can’t really tell what’s going to happen. But we [Filipinos] are used to these things. No matter how many crises come our way, we would still keep going.”
Expanding in the provinces, fringe areas
“We’ve seen a considerable growth in demand for our projects, because majority of our developments offer farms, beachfront lots, lakes, and access to world class golf courses, among others,” added David Dela Cruz, chief financial officer of SLI.
He outlined that Sta. Lucia Land and the entire Sta. Lucia Group currently have a diverse portfolio comprising over 300 developed projects in 70 cities and 11 regions—from as far north as Pangasinan to as far south as Zamboanga.
“These projects are located in high growth areas, city centers and even in the fringe areas, enabling the Sta. Lucia Group to help spur economic activities, generate jobs, provide quality homes, and fuel growth even in the countryside,” he pointed out.
De la Cruz said the company is poised to sustain its growth momentum beyond the pandemic as it continues to pursue aggressive expansion plans, strategic landbanking activities, joint ventures, and portfolio diversification.
This year, SLI entered joint ventures and acquisition agreements covering a total of 276.64 hectares in seven provinces namely Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Bulacan, Pangasinan, Pampanga and South Cotabato, he revealed.
Over the short-term, SLI will continue to focus on provincial growth areas as it has long been betting big on towns and fringe areas that hold potential, he averred.
“The potential of fringe areas and provinces is strengthened by the government’s massive infrastructure program, which aims to boost connectivity and bring inclusive growth to more areas across the country,” he explained.
For 2023, De la Cruz said SLI plans to further expand its presence in 18 provinces, where it already has a strong footprint.
These include Bulacan, Pangasinan, Bataan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon, Palawan, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Zamboanga, South Cotabato, and Davao.
“To support our expansion projects and landbanking activities, we plan to beef up our capital spending by at least 8 percent in 2023,” he said.