Dubai-based Emaar Properties on 13 April announced first-quarter profits of AED 1,517 million ($413.4 million), a 14 per cent year-on-year increase. Annualised earnings per share (EPS) rose to AED 1.04 ($0.28), compared to actual EPS of AED 0.85 ($0.23) in 2005.

First-quarter revenues of AED 2,239 million ($610 million) were 21 per cent lower than the corresponding period in 2005 but were higher than last year’s average quarterly revenue of AED 2,090 million ($569 million).

In spite of the record quarterly profit, the stock market reacted badly to the results. Emaar’s share price had been recovering from a slump caused by investors’ disappointment with full-year 2005 earnings growth of 180 per cent, but slumped after the latest announcement, bringing down the Dubai Financial Market with it. Emaar shares closed at AED 16.25 ($4.43) on 17 April, down from about AED 19 ($5.18) before the news.

‘The reaction of investors to Emaar’s results – full-year and the latest ones – perfectly illustrates the unrealistic expectations among GCC investors,’ said a Dubai-based analyst. Emaar officials voiced their agreement. ‘This is a market based on rumours and not results,’ said Issam Galadari, managing director of Emaar in Saudi Arabia and a former executive director of Emaar in the UAE.

Announcing the results, Emaar chairman Mohammed Ali Alabbar emphasised that the company’s priorities going forward were continued international expansion in the real estate market, particularly in North Africa, and into new sectors such as healthcare and education (MEED 7:4:06, Cover Story).