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March 20, 2009

Thai industrial estate firm sees 50% drop in revenue
Amata Corp, Thailand's biggest seller of industrial land, said on Thursday it expected 2009 revenue to fall 50 percent due to weak land sales.

Sales should remain weak through the third quarter of 2009, but a recovery was expected in the fourth quarter as stimulus packages from several countries should start to bear fruit, Reuters quoted Chief Financial Officer Viboon Kromadit as telling reporters.

"Revenue this year will be severely affected by the weak economy. In the first half of this year, we should sell only about 50 rais (8.1 hectares) of land," Viboon said. "Net profit should be weak in line with falling revenue."

His forecast was worse than market expectations, with 11 analysts polled by Reuters Estimates forecasting a 22 percent drop in 2009 sales to 3.17 billion baht ($89 million).

The company had revenue of 4.06 billion baht in 2008.

Amata, a bellwether for foreign investor sentiment towards Thailand, operates two industrial estimates -- Amata Nakorn in the eastern city of Chonburi and Amata City in the eastern province of Rayong.

Japanese car makers are among its biggest clients.

Due to the global economic recession, some customers have delayed decisions to buy land and some have asked for a 50 percent discount on land prices, which made it difficult for Amata to do business, Viboon said.

Revenue from its service business was also hit after customers, especially in the auto sector, cut production due to weak demand, he said.

Land sales accounted for 70 percent of revenue last year and the remainder came from services, including providing water and electricity on the industrial estates.

On Thursday, Amata shares closed up 1.9 percent at 3.22 baht, while the overall market was 0.36 percent higher.
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