The entity 138 Student Living (138 SL) registered a profit of $318 million after tax for the year ended September 2022, an increase in profit of 44 per cent over the previous year.
This was disclosed at the company’s Annual General Meeting at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on Wednesday, April 19.
The listed company which provides accommodations on the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus in a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement with UWI has registered a profit for the past four years, even during the pandemic.
Under the PPP with UWI, 138 SL built and manages more than 1400 rooms on the Mona campus in three of the newest halls of residence, namely Leslie Robinson Hall, George Alleyne Hall and the new Irvine Hall, as well as the Gerald Lalor Flats.
Speaking of the turnaround in 138 SL’s fortunes, Chairman Ian Parsard said the company significantly restructured its debt portfolio in order to reduce interest costs and increase profits.
“We were able to declare a 13 cents dividend a couple months ago and the intention is that 138 will be looking to revise that and increase it over time, hopefully in the not too distant future putting it at 50 per cent of our profits,” he said.
Meanwhile, CEO Cranston Ewan noted that the company’s Earnings Per Share increased to 77 cents in the year ending September 2022, up from 53 cents the year before.
He noted that the company was able to turn around from making a loss in 2018 to registering a profit every year since then, including during the pandemic.
Ewan noted that while 138 SL mainly provided long-term accommodation for students, venturing into the short-term rental market had proven beneficial.
“For the year under review short-term rental generated some $92 million in revenue for us. It also formed a critical part of our business during the COVID-19 period when we had to pivot when our long-term business showed significant decline,” said Ewan.
The company said it had seen significant demand for both local and international group bookings, especially for sporting and UWI affiliate groups.
Chairman Parsad said new initiatives being considered were additional student accommodation and PPP arrangements, similar to the existing one with UWI.
He noted also that the company was not heavily exposed to any possible devaluation of the Jamaican dollar because its rental rates were to a large extent indexed to the US dollar.
Other developments coming include an upgrade of the company’s website to facilitate payments online and the development of an app. CEO Ewan said this would help to minimise risk exposure due to the use of cash.
In January the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) advised of a delay in the submission of 138 SL’s Annual Report for the year ended September 30, 2022, due to internal resource challenges.