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Philippine school opening gives top mall operator sales lift

Top Philippine mall operator SM Prime Holdings Inc.’s revenue from its malls in the country may exceed P16.1 billion ($283 million) in the third quarter as school openings boost consumer spending in restaurants and shops, according to Steven Tan, president of the company’s unit SM Supermalls.

The third-quarter is so far “turning out better than the first quarter and there’s a good chance it will even be better than our second quarter,” Mr. Tan said. SM Prime booked P13 billion and P16.1 billion in rental revenue from its malls in the country in the first quarter and second quarter, respectively.

“A lot of sales are driven by what students need,” Mr. Tan said in an interview on the sidelines of an event on Monday. “The third quarter so far is our biggest surprise because normally it’s a lean season,” he added. Schools resumed classes for the year in the Southeast Asian nation last month.

A positive revenue outlook at SM Prime’s SM Supermalls unit could help perk up sentiment toward the Philippine consumer sector after online broker COL Financial said companies mostly performed below expectations in the second quarter due to “normalizing” demand and higher operating costs.

Shares of SM Prime rose as much as 2% in Manila, heading for the third gain in four days. The stock is down about 15% this year, compared with a drop of some 5% in the Philippine Stock Exchange Index.

SM Prime reported a 49% increase in second-quarter net income with mall revenue driven by sustained tenant sales and foot traffic. Despite elevated inflation, Mr. Tan said restaurants are still “‘doing well,” while there is “some” pullback on high fashion and high-end products as many consumers are watchful of non-discretionary spending. — Bloomberg

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