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Singapore UOB Kay Hian is maintaining its hold recommendation on Singapore Post (SingPost) with a target price of $1.46 as FY17 draws to a close, on the notion that FY18 will remain a “year of transformation” for the group where elevated costs will continue to dampen its earnings.

In a Thursday report, analysts Thai Wei-Ying and Andrew Chow say that while they are still positive on SingPost’s long-term prospects, investors are to expect TradeGlobal losses to continue in FY17 due to a revenue gap from losses incurred in 3Q17, as well as cost pressure.

At the same time, they remain cautiously optimistic that losses will nonetheless taper off in FY18, on measures such as warehouse automation and new customer onboarding/fulfillment efforts to restructure TradeGlobal. “Furthermore, we note Paul Demirdjian, the newly-appointed interim CEO of the US business, is equipped with strong e-commerce experience,” say Thai and Chow.

Another key highlight for FY18, say the analysts, would be the onboarding of SingPost’s new CEO Paul William Coutts on June 1 this year.

Given Coutts’ extensive career experience in the industry, the analysts say they optimistic he will be “instrumental” in driving the consolidation of SingPost’s e-commerce logistics business, although it may take him some time to settle into his role as CEO, and results will only be tangible after 6-12 months.

The group’s redevelopment of Singapore Post Centre (SPC) mall is expected to be completed in mid-2017 and has already secured three anchor tenants, namely movie theater operator Golden Village, supermarket franchise NTUC, as well as food court chain operator Kopitiam.

Although Thai and Chow note that the leasing progress of the mall is on-track, they estimate meaningful contributions from SPC will only kick in 2H18 as it “typically takes some time for the mall to fill up”. Full year contributions will only kick in from FY19 onwards, they add. As at 11.08am, shares of SingPost are up by 1 cent at $1.34.

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