28 April 2010 – Highlights on The Global Front

  • US: Home prices in cities rise less than forecast
  • US: Confidence increases on jobs outlook
  • UK: Retail sales expectations reach five-month high
  • Greece: Credit rating cut to junk at S&P as contagion spreads
  • Portugal: Suffering Greek contagion

US: Dow plunges 213 points, breaks 11K
Stocks fell Tuesday after Standard & Poors cut Greece’s debt rating to junk and lowered Portugal’s debt rating, raising fears that a euro zone debt crisis could slow the global economic recovery. The slide was the Dow’s biggest one-day point drop since Jul 15, 2009, when it lost 257 points. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1.9% (-213.0 pts, close 10,992.0). The Nasdaq lost 2.0% (-51.5 pts, close 2,471.5) and the S&P 500 lost 2.3% (-28.3 pts, close 1,183.7). US light crude oil for June delivery fell US$1.76 to settle at US$82.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (CNNmoney)
US: Home prices in cities rise less than forecast
Home prices in 20 US cities rose less than forecast in February from a year earlier, a sign a housing recovery will take time to develop. The S&P/Case-Shiller home-price index of property values in 20 cities increased 0.6% from Feb 2009, the first gain since Dec 2006, the group said in New York. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a 1.3% advance. Home prices in February were 30% below the peak reached in Jul 2006, indicating the industry that helped trigger the worst recession since the 1930s will take years to recover lost ground. The home-price index was forecast to rise after a y-o-y drop of 0.7% for January, according to the median forecast of 23 economists surveyed. Estimates ranged from a decline of 0.8% to a gain of 1.6%. (Bloomberg)
US: Confidence increases on jobs outlook
Consumers in the US turned more optimistic in April as the growing economy raised hopes jobs will become available. The Conference Board’s confidence index rose to 57.9, exceeding all forecasts of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and the highest level since Lehman Brothers Inc. collapsed in Sep 2008, according to data from the New York-based private research group. The measure averaged 97 during the last expansion. Americans’ outlook for the next six months climbed to the highest level since Oct 2007, two months before the recession began, as almost one in every five people polled thought the world’s largest economy and employment would improve. The median forecast of 78 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected the confidence index would rise to 53.5. Estimates ranged from 48 to 57. (Bloomberg)
UK: Retail sales expectations reach five-month high
A UK retail index stayed positive in April as expectations of sales rose to a five-month high, the Confederation of British Industry said. Retailers saying sales volumes rose from a year earlier outnumbered those reporting declines by 13 percentage points, the same as last month, the nation’s biggest business lobby said in a statement in London. The gauge of expectations rose to 17 from 14 in April. The report is based on a survey of 75 companies between Mar 24 and Apr 14. UK retail spending is recovering after the worst recession on record drove unemployment to a 16-year high in the quarter through February. Footwear and food grocers reported “strong” annual sales growth, while trading at home-improvement stores stabilized after three months of declines, the CBI said. The gauge tracking the three-month moving average pace of overall retail sales growth gained seven percentage points to 16 in April, the highest since Aug 2007, the group said. (Bloomberg)
Greece: Credit rating cut to junk at S&P as contagion spreads
Greece’s credit rating was cut three steps to junk by Standard and Poor’s, the first time a euro member has lost its investment grade since the currency’s 1999 debut. The euro weakened and stock markets throughout the region plunged. Greece was lowered to BB+ from BBB+ by S&P, which also warned that bondholders could recover as little as 30% of their initial investment if the country restructures its debt. The move, which puts Greek debt on a par with bonds issued by Azerbaijan and Egypt, came minutes after the rating company reduced Portugal by two steps to A- from A+. The turmoil comes as European Union policy makers struggle to agree on measures to ease the panic over swelling budget deficits. Leaders of the 16 euro nations may hold a summit after the Greek government’s decision last week to tap a €45bn (US$60bn) emergency-aid package failed to reassure investors, a European diplomat and Spanish official said. (Bloomberg)
Portugal: Suffering Greek contagion
With a higher debt burden and a slower 10-year growth rate than Greece, Portugal is being punished by investors as the sovereign debt crisis spreads. The risk premium on Portuguese bonds rose to more than double the past year’s average this month. Portugal’s credit default swaps show investors rank its debt as the world’s eighth-riskiest. Standard & Poor’s cut its long-term local and foreign currency sovereign rating for Portugal to A- from A+ and said the outlook was negative. Portuguese spreads, the extra yield that investors demand to hold its debt rather than German equivalents rose to 260 basis points, the most since at least 1997. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates’ push to convince investors his country will avoid Greece’s fate is being hobbled by an economy that’s expanded less than an annual average of 1% for a decade and is reliant on tourism and industries such as cork and pulp. (Bloomberg)

April 28, 2010 at 1:23 am Leave a comment

28th April 2010 – Highlights on Malaysia

HIGHLIGHTS
On Malaysia

  • TM: Mulls over quad play
  • Media Prima: Moves to delist NSTP
  • Sunrise: May consider REIT at later stage
  • SunCity: To buy Sunway Parking Management from Sunway Pyramid
  • Mutiara Goodyear: To launch projects worth RM1.6bn
  • Transmile: Files civil suit against former CEO Gan
  • Consumer: Beer price to go up 3.6% in May
  • Economy: Ringgit appreciation not a concern, says Zeti

TM: Mulls over quad play
A mobile/cellular gamble may be the next thing that Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) (T MK, Hold, TP:RM3.54) will have to consider getting itself into if it wants to enhance its existing triple play offering. But TM will have to wait till early next year as it had in 2008 signed an agreement with Axiata Group Bhd that forbids it to get involved in the cellular business. However, early next year it will be free of that bond and can offer the missing link which is the cellular/mobile services to complement its triple play offer. (StarBiz)
Media Prima: Moves to delist NSTP
Media Prima Bhd (MPB) (MPR MK, Buy, TP:RM2.17), which has completed its takeover exercise of the New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd (NSTP), is proceeding with the delisting of NSTP group. MPB said it had requested NSTP to undertake the proposed delisting exercise. As of 14 Apr 2010, MPB holds an 89.62% stake comprising 194.68m shares of RM1 each in NSTP. MPB said it was prepared to extend a voluntary general offer to acquire all the remaining shares not already owned at RM2.40 per NSTP share, to be satisfied by the issuance of six shares each in MPB at an issue price of RM2 and one new warrant in MPB for free, for every five NSTP shares accepted. (Financial Daily)

Sunrise: May consider REIT at later stage

Sunrise Bhd (SUN MK, Buy, TP:RM3.30) may consider injecting some of its property assets into a real estate investment trust (REIT) as they begin to deliver stable income, says its chairman Tong Kooi Ong. “We have invested considerably in a pool of investment assets over the last few years, which are now starting to bear fruit,” he said. “For the medium term, our overseas focus will be on Canada. We do not have plans for the moment to venture into Vietnam or China”, he added. Sunrise plans to launch two projects later this year, an office tower project in Kuala Lumpur, as well as a residential project in Vancouver, Canada. (BT)

SunCity: To buy Sunway Parking Management from Sunway Pyramid
Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) (SCITY MK, Buy, TP:RM4.33) has proposed to acquire Sunway Parking Management Bhd (SPM) from its 52%-owned subsidiary Sunway Pyramid Sdn Bhd (SPSB) for RM12.6m. SunCity said SPM owned a piece of vacant land adjacent to the Sunway Pyramid Shopping Mall and the land offered an attractive development opportunity given its proximity to the mall. It added that a 28-storey mixed commercial building with office and retail elements and with 1,027 car parks were planned for development on the piece of land. Purchase consideration comprised of RM1.17m for SPM shares and the repayment of RM11.43m in shareholders’ advancement owing to SPSB. (Financial Daily)
Mutiara Goodyear: To launch projects worth RM1.6bn
Mutiara Goodyear Development Bhd plans to launch four housing projects worth RM1.6bn this year to ride the economic recovery. The projects would be developed over a 40ha land in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Penang. “People are still buying properties and demand would be there for at least another two to three years,” executive chairman Hamidon Abdullah said. The company still has more than 350ha of landbank which can be developed for another RM3.4bn. (Malaysian Reserve)
MBfH: Shareholders reject privatisation bid
Minority shareholders of MBf Holdings Bhd (MBfH) have rejected a selective capital reduction and repayment proposal (SCR) in an extraordinary general meeting (EGM). This result had scuttled the privatization bid by its CEO Tan Sri Dr Ninian Mogan Lourdenadin. On Jan 11, Lourdenadin offered to privatize the company through the proposed SCR which would see minority shareholders receive 65 sen per share and warrant holders 5 sen per warrant. It was Lourdenadin’s second bid to take MBfH private as he has previously offered minority shareholders 21.5 sen per share a few years ago. (Malaysian Reserve)
GCB: Two major shareholders launch takeover bid
Two major shareholders of General Corporation Bhd (GCB) have launched a takeover of the company for about RM505.5m or RM1.70 per share. GCB said it had received a letter from Consistent Record Sdn Bhd (CRSB), a company owned by Tan Sri Low Keng Huat and Datuk Marco Low Peng Kiat, to acquire its entire business and undertakings, including all assets and liabilities. CRSB had stated in the letter than certain family members of the shareholders and the shareholders’ intend to transfer their 32% stake in GCB to the company. (Malaysian Reserve)

Deleum: Eyes RM200m-RM300m deals
Deleum Bhd expects to see continuous growth in 2010, backed by new projects and its entry into a new segment in the industry. It is bidding for contracts worth between RM200m and RM300m this year mainly for its offshore business which currently represents 95% of its bottom line. “We have bid for jobs and will continue to participate and enter tenders which are in nature with our business,” said Deleum group managing director Chandran Aloysius Rajadurai. The company currently has an order book worth RM1bn that will keep it busy until 2015. (BT)
Transmile: Files civil suit against former CEO Gan
In a rare move, a listed company that is facing a possible delisting if it does not regularise its financial position has taken a civil suit against its former principal executive for grossly overstating the company’s revenue more than three years ago, an incident that was uncovered in 2007. Transmile Group Bhd announced that it has filed a civil suit against its former CEO Gan Boon Aun and former CFO Lo Chok Ping for failing in their duties and trust towards the company. It claimed the defendants had breached their duty of fidelity and trust to the company by grossly overstating  the revenue and causing questionable payments and receipts pertaining to transactions between its two wholly-owned subsidiaries and several parties. (Financial Daily)
TRC Synergy: Gets RM20.4m Putrajaya job
TRC Synergy Bhd’s subsidiary, Trans Resources Corp Sdn Bhd, has bagged a RM20.39m contract for the construction of government apartments in Putrajaya. TRC said it had on Apr 23, received a letter of award from Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd for the proposed construction and completion of remaining and rectification works for 622 units of government apartments at Parcel 5R6 in Precinct 5, Putrajaya. (Financial Daily)
Consumer: Beer price to go up 3.6% in May
Beer and stout will be dearer starting next month, thanks to the sharp increase in input costs, particularly the imported malt. According to Carlsberg Brewery (M) Bhd managing director, Soren Ravn, the country’s breweries had agreed to raise the prices of beer and stout by an average of 3.6% next month to pass on the higher input costs to consumers. “The price of raw material has increased by an average of 10% annually for the last five years, putting pressure on margins,” Ravn said. He also mentioned that the recommended retail price would be industry wide, involving the main breweries, namely Guinness Anchor (M) Bhd and Carlsberg. (Financial Daily)
Economy: Ringgit appreciation not a concern, says Zeti
The recent appreciation of the ringgit was not a concern, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, explaining that the strong local currency reflects the improved economic fundamentals. However, Zeti revealed that the central bank would be concerned if there was “excessive movement” on the ringgit within a short period of time. It also posed concern if there were disorderly market conditions or any misalignment to economic conditions. “Right now, the market has remained orderly and is seen to reflect market conditions and underlying fundamentals” she said. Zeti also said that decision for interest rate normalisation would be made at the next policy meeting on May 12 and 13. (Financial Daily)

April 28, 2010 at 1:11 am Leave a comment

TSH Resources – 2QFY09 : Improving Sequentially

· Earnings sequentially stronger, but below expectations
Annualised, TSH 6MFY09 net profits came in 23% below our estimates and 11% below consensus numbers. The Group performed well in 2Q comparing q-o-q from a profitability perspective owing to CPO prices which hit a high of RM2800 during the period. However, results were still weaker when compared y-o-y. The group also noted q-o-q improvements in their cocoa and wood business which saw revenue growth of 37% and 7% respectively. The cocoa segment turned to the black this quarter while wood products continued to turn in a loss. We note that the cocoa segment has performed below our expectation and are hence adjusting down our assumptions.

· Ekowood losses narrow
Ekowood reported a PBT loss of RM1.3m for the quarter compared to the 1QFY09 loss of RM2.2m. The group notes that the narrowing losses have been due to cost cutting exercises within the company. We think the year will continue to be difficult as their earnings rely on the recovery of housing markets in the US and EU. We maintain our expectations of an RM10m loss for the company for this year.

· Look to Indonesia for future growth
TSH, despite these trying times, continues to have bright prospects. The group has now a hectarage of 78,000ha, of which only 21,000ha is planted. Of their planted area, some 60% is still under the age of 4 years hence FFB growth for the group will drive earnings going forward. Besides that, they continue with their planting programme in Indonesia and are planting 5000ha this year and gradually more in 2010 onwards.

· Slight downgrade to earnings, Buy call maintained
We adjust our earnings downwards slightly by 5.3% for FY09 and 1.2% for FY10. We continue to like TSH for their large tract of immature and unplanted land in Indonesia. We are moving our DCF based TP to a PE based valuation methodology. Using a historical average PE of 11x (average since 2006) and pegging FY10 EPS, we derive a value of RM2.10 for the stock and hence maintain our BUY call.

August 7, 2009 at 2:34 am Leave a comment

Malaysian Airline System – 2QFY09 : Poor Operating Results

· Operational results missed expectation by a mile
While MAS posted a net profit of RM875.5m in 2Q09, results were distorted by net derivative gains of RM1.34bn, mainly arising from higher q-o-q mark-to-market oil price. Despite recognising fuel cost for accounting purposes at spot rate, operating loss of RM420.8m was reported. Such poor operating results were magnified further if we look at the proforma income statement prepared on non-FRS 139 basis which showed net losses of RM804.5m and RM1,598.1m for 2Q09 and 1H09 respectively. This effectively means 1H09 results missed our full year non-FRS139 estimates of RM740.5 by a mile.

· Poor yielding operational performance
MAS registered weak operational statistics across the board. Though load factor improved to 65.8% in 2Q09, yield dropped 20% q-o-q due to intense fare cutting in the industry. The 65.8% load factor was simply not enough to sustain revenue due to a drop in yield. This has led to a 7.6% q-o-q drop in revenue. Furthermore, MAS has not made much headway in cutting non-fuel costs.

· Cash pile being depleted by derivative losses
MAS’ cash pile (including negotiable instruments of deposits) has been depleted by 36.4% to RM2.9bn since 31 Dec 2008 mainly due to outlay for settlement of expired derivatives as well as premium for the restructuring of derivatives. Assuming oil prices stay at current level, we expect additional RM1.6bn cash outflows for settlement of outstanding derivatives. Of this amount, RM833.0m will be due within the next 12 months. By the time all of its derivatives expire in 2011, MAS cash pile may be depleted to RM1.3bn.

· Reiterate SELL call, earnings estimates cut
We have revised our costs FY09 upwards by RM700m due to the fact that MAS has not managed to cut costs as budgeted earlier in the year. We have also revised our yield estimates lower to 27 sen/RPK. Consequently, we cut our earnings estimate for FY09. We reiterate our sell call on concerns of a sustained weak operational and financial performance in the months ahead, with an unchanged target price of RM2.00.

Operational results missed expectation by a mile
While MAS posted a net profit of RM875.5m in 2Q09, results were distorted by net derivative gains of RM1.34bn, mainly arising from higher q-o-q mark-to-market oil price. Despite recognising fuel cost for accounting purposes at spot rate, operating loss of RM420.8m was reported. Such poor operating results were magnified further if we look at the proforma income statement prepared on non-FRS 139 basis which showed net losses of RM804.5m and RM1,598.1m for 2Q09 and 1H09 respectively. This effectively means 1H09 results missed our full year non-FRS139 estimate of RM740.5 by a mile.

One-off gain shadowing losses of RM420m
MAS adopted the FRS 139 accounting standard in 1Q09 and booked RM3.9bn mark-to-market (MTM) unrealised losses mainly on fuel derivatives that were incurred due to the differences between the prices of the structured derivatives at approximately US$100/barrel and prevailing oil prices then of around US$49.6 at the end of 1Q09.
Now that oil prices have recovered to above US$70 as at 30 June, MAS proceeded to book a one-off derivative gain of RM1.34bn to reverse part of 1Q09’s unrealised losses from derivatives. This gain is purely an accounting transaction and has distorted MAS 2Q09 earnings numbers. Effectively, without the one-off gain, MAS would have recorded core EBIT losses of RM420.8m.

Poor yielding operational performance
Hurt by an RM137.9m operating loss and a weak load factor of 56.1% in 1Q09, MAS adopted a “yield passive, load active” strategy in 2Q09 amid intense fare cutting in the industry. Though load factor improved 9.7 points q-o-q to 65.8%, yield plunged 20% q-o-q and 16.9% y-o-y to 30 sen/RPK. A 65.8% load factor amidst 20% lower yield is simply not enough to generate sufficient revenue to breed profits.
The consequence of the 20% fall in yield was a q-o-q 7.6% and y-o-y 31% drop in revenue to RM2.49bn in 2Q09. Weak global as well as regional demand for air travel also compounded the steep drop in revenue. The International Air Travel Association recently released data that underlined the continued deterioration of the aviation industry with a 7.2% drop in global demand and a 14.5% drop in Asia Pacific demand.

Derivative losses to hit cash and balance sheet
1H09’s cash flow statement showed some worrying cash outflow items such as the net settlement losses derivatives of RM798m and premium of RM564m to restructure existing derivatives. Though the RM546m premium might be a one-off item, the RM798m settlement on derivative losses might be repeated in the next two years if oil prices stay below US$100/barrel.
If oil price stays at current level of US$71 per barrel, we expect MAS having to settle financial derivative liabilities amounting to RM1.6bn as at 30 June 2009. Of this amount, RM833.0m will be due within the next 12 months. By the time all of its derivatives expire in 2011, MAS cash pile may be depleted to RM1.3bn.

Earnings revision
Apart from falling yield and revenue, MAS’ operational losses can also be attributed to its inability to cut non-fuel costs as envisaged under its business turnaround plan. Earlier this year, management budgeted cost cuts of 7% across the board which will yield savings of around RM700m to RM1bn. So far, MAS has not managed to achieve the desired effect. In fact, non-fuel costs actually increased 12% q-o-q to RM2.2 bn.
As such, we have removed the budgeted cost savings of RM700m from our non-fuel costs calculations and have downgraded FY09 earnings. We are also expecting yield to drop further and have revised our yield estimates downwards by 7% in FY09 to 27sen/RPK.

Maintain SELL
We maintain our sell call on concerns of a sustained period of weak operational as well as financial performance for MAS in the months ahead. Our target price is unchanged at RM2.00. While it does translate to a slightly higher 1.4x FY10 book value (we had previously ascribed 1x to derive our earlier target prices), PE valuations are relatively inexpensive for FY10 and FY11 at 13x and 6x respectively.

August 7, 2009 at 2:28 am Leave a comment

Boustead Heavy Industries – 2QFY09 : Results Continue To Improve

· Mixed results
The group recorded 2QFY09 revenue of RM120.3m (+8.0% y-o-y, 3.9% qo-q), bringing the 1HFY09 revenue to RM236.1 (+11.2% y-o-y). Meanwhile its 2Q09 net profit came in at RM18.3m (-48.2% y-o-y, +19.8% q-o-q), resulting in 1HFY09 net profits coming in below house and consensus numbers. The y-o-y profits were mainly affected by higher costs and reduced share of profit from its associate due to lower progress billings of vessels construction. However, the improved q-o-q results were due to the delivery of a well testing and servicing vessel and the MUDA Living quarters structure for CARIGALI-PTTEPI Operating Company Sdn Bhd is in the final stages of completion.

· No known change in orderbook
The group’s orderbook is still estimated to have about RM600m in contracts, as there have been no indications of new contract being awarded in the past year. This means that Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) continues to be the earnings driver for the company during this troubled times. The group has stated that based on the existing order book, prospects for 2HFY09 are expected to reflect the trends established in the 1st 6 months. Due to this, we have reduced our earnings forecast for FY09, but maintain our FY10 and FY11 numbers. Going forward, the group plans to focus on lean inventory, process improvements, risk management and prudent cash flow management to ride out the challenging market outlook.

· TP raised but hold call maintained
We believe that there are indications of a turnaround at this point and also that the joint venture with DCNS S.A should bear fruit soon. There is also a potential of the group getting more shipbuilding contracts by the Malaysian Government once all the vessels for the current contract are delivered. As such, we have revised our TP upward to RM4.96 by using the group’s forward EPS of 38.2 sen and its average P/E of 13x. However due to the run-up in share price, we maintain our HOLD call on the stock, with a potential re-rating if it is awarded more government contracts.

August 7, 2009 at 2:17 am Leave a comment

7 August 2009 : Newz Bits

TALKING POINT


Malaysian Airline System – Poor operating results
While MAS posted a net profit of RM875.5m in 2Q09, results were distorted by net derivative gains of RM1.34bn, mainly arising from higher q-o-q mark-to-market oil price. MAS registered weak operational statistics across the board. Though load factor improved to 65.8% in 2Q09, yield dropped 20% q-o-q due to a string of promotional discounts in 2Q09. Furthermore, MAS has not made much headway in cutting non-fuel costs. We reiterate our sell call on concerns of a sustained weak operational and financial performance in the next 18 months.
HIGHLIGHTS


On Malaysia

· Sunway City may revive plans to float its property assets through a REIT in 2010
· Maxis’ unit, Aircel Cellular Ltd, reported to have raised US$3bn in debt to expand operations
On The Global Front
· Number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits fall more than economists forecast
· Bank of England expands bond purchase program beyond its original limit to spur lending
REPORTS
· TSH Resources – 2QFY09 Results (Buy; RM1.74; TP: RM2.10)
· Boustead Heavy Industries – 2QFY09 Results (Hold: RM4.86: TP; RM4.96)
· Malaysian Airline System – 2QFY09 Results (Sell; RM3.10; TP: RM2.00)

National Carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) (MAS MK, Sell, TP: RM2.00) will impose an across-the-board salary freeze from next year, says its chief. The salary freeze is expected to save the airline some RM100m next year as it seeks to conserve cash in a tough operating environment. “If there are any other specific areas where we intend to make further reduction by allowances, it will not be made unilaterally. It will be made after consulting our union and staff members,” said MAS managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Idris Jala. (BT)
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AirAsia Bhd (AIRA MK, Buy, TP: RM1.90) has signed an “Amendment Agreement” with Airbus SAS to defer the delivery of eight Airbus A320 aircraft from 2010 to 2014, due to infrastructural constraints with the current airport facilities and until the new low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) is constructed. “With the deferment, the original delivery of 24 aircrafts in 2010 shall be reduced to 16 aircrafts,” AirAsia said. The rationale to scale down the delivery of aircraft in 2010 and possibly 2011 was to enable the budget airline to optimise its fleet and avoid costs associated with leaving aircraft idle or under utilised due to infrastructural limitations. The company said there were no penalties payable by AirAsia in revising the delivery schedule for 2010 and 2011. (Financial Daily)
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Sunway City Bhd (SunCity) (SCITY MK, Buy, TP: RM3.60) may revive a US$860m (RM3.01bn) plan to float its property assets through a real estate investment trust (REIT) in 2010 depending on the recovery in the markets, a top executive said. The listing plan will see SunCity injecting its retail property assets such as shopping malls, hotels and theme parks into an investment trust. “This would be one of the largest REIT exercises in Malaysia, so we would need foreign interest to take up some of the units. Once the foreign appetite for our real estate sector comes back then we will come in, “ said managing director Ngeow Voon Yean. (Financial Daily)
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YTL Land & Development Bhd, unit of YTL Corporation Bhd (YTL MK, Buy, TP: RM8.00), hopes to sell its remaining units of its latest property development, Centrio, when a new financial package is offered from this weekend. The package is launched in conjunction with the opening of small office/home office (SOHO) show units to the public. Sales and marketing senior manager Jessica Loo said the financial package, which would be available for two weeks, would give up to RM150,000 rebates to purchasers of the available units at Centrio. “About 75% of the units at Centrio have been taken up. We hope this special package will help boost sales for the remaining units,” she added. (StarBiz)
* * * * *

Maxis Communications Bhd’s 74%-owned unit, Aircel Cellular Ltd has been reported to have raised US$3bn (RM10.47bn) in debt to expand operations. India’s Economic Times, citing unidentified sources, said yesterday Aircel has raised the financing, in a combination of rupee and dollar, from the State Bank of India and Standard Chartered plc. It has been previously reported that Maxis needs to spend US$5bn for its Indian operations over the next three to five years and part of that funding would be raised from the mobile operator’s much anticipated listing exercise this year. (Malaysian Reserve)
* * * * *

Fitch Ratings yesterday said the probability of capital impairment in Malaysian banks still appear fairly low, notwithstanding extremely challenging macroeconomic conditions and reasonably-stressed assumptions simulated by the agency. Also, the banks’ earning – although likely to be lower in 2009 and 2010 compared to 2008 – appear adequate in fully absorbing the credit costs associated with asset quality deterioration. This means their loss absorption capacity would likely remain adequate and financial strength largely intact, which is the main reason Fitch maintains a “stable outlook” on the local banks’ credit ratings, despite very weak macroeconomic indicators. Nonetheless, it notes that further downside risks cannot be entirely ignored, and despite some improvement in market sentiment in recent weeks, there are still considerable uncertainties on the prospects of a sustainable economic recovery over the next 12 to 18 months. (StarBiz)
* * * * *

Malaysia has proposed to Brunei the possibility of embarking on joint oil exploration in the territorial waters of both countries. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Malaysian side was also looking at various aspects, including the role of Petronas, which would be worked out within the framework of the Malaysia-Brunei Letters of Exchange (LoEs) pertaining to the demarcation of land and maritime borders. He said the proposal was among the consequential matters following the signing of the LoEs on March 16 in which he and Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah reaffirmed their commitment to work together towards the expeditious implementation of elements agreed upon in the document. Energy, hydro, halal hub, Islamic banking, oil palm cluster and tourism are among the various proposed collaborations between the two countries. (Malaysian Reserve)
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Stocks dipped Thursday – ahead of the closely watched July jobs report – with investors bailing out of tech, financial and commodity shares in a step back from the big rally of the past month. Today brings the week’s biggest economic report, the July jobs report. Employers are expected to have cut 328,000 jobs from their payrolls after slashing 467,000 jobs in the previous month, according to Briefing.com. The unemployment report, generated by a separate survey, is expected to have inched up to 9.6% from 9.5% last month. A worse-than-expected report could cause a big sell-off on Wall Street, especially after the recent run up stocks have had. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.3% (-24.7 pts, close 9,256.3). The Nasdaq lost 1.0% (-19.9 pts, close 1,973.2) and the S&P 500 index lost 0.6% (-5.6 pts, close 997.1). U.S. light crude oil for September delivery fell 3 cents to settle at US$71.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (CNNmoney)
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The number of Americans filing claims for jobless benefits fell more than economists predicted, a sign some employers have stopped paring staff as the recession eases. Applications dropped by 38,000 to 550,000 in the week ended Aug. 1, figures from the Labour Department showed yesterday in Washington, the fifth straight time claims were under 600,000 after being above that level since January. The total number of people collecting unemployment insurance rose. The pace of job cuts isn’t slowing fast enough to keep unemployment from rising. A report today will show the jobless rate jumped to the highest in 26 years in July, economists surveyed by Bloomberg News predict. The four-week moving average, a less-volatile measure than weekly initial claims, fell to 555,250 from 560,000 the prior week. The level of continuing claims increased by 69,000 to 6.31m in the week ended July 25. (Bloomberg)
* * * * *

The U.S. unemployment rate is likely to keep rising even as the US$787bn stimulus plan provides more support in the short term, President Barack Obama’s top economist said. “The bottom line is that we are no doubt in for more turbulent times,” Christina Romer, chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said yesterday in a speech in Washington. Even after gross domestic product starts to expand, “it will likely take still longer for employment to stop falling and begin to rise.” “The composition of the stimulus will be changing toward components with larger short-run effects,” Romer said, adding that the early phase of the program focused more on taxes and assistance to state governments. Additional “direct government investments” in coming months will have short-term effects that are about 60% stronger than the tax cuts, she said. (Bloomberg)
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European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet indicated the economy may recover sooner than previously anticipated and signalled the bank is unlikely to provide any further stimulus. “The overall mood today is a little bit better than it was before,” Trichet said at a press conference in Frankfurt after the ECB left its benchmark interest rate at a record low of 1%. Rates are “appropriate” and policy makers are “satisfied” with their asset-purchase program and measures to improve the flow of credit, he said. The ECB’s more optimistic tone contrasts with the Bank of England, which yesterday expanded its bond-purchase plan to fight a recession that’s deeper than it initially expected. With unemployment rising in Europe and consumer prices falling at the fastest pace on record, Trichet said the economy will remain weak this year and the ECB is taking a “prudent and cautious” approach. (Bloomberg)
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The Bank of England expanded its bond purchase program beyond its original limit in an effort to spur lending and fight a recession that’s deeper than previously anticipated. Bond yields plunged after the Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, kept the key interest rate at 0.5% and increased its purchase program by £50mn (US$84bn) to £175bn. The Bank of England’s move suggests policy makers, who based the decision on quarterly forecasts prepared this month, assessed that their stimulus plan and record low interest rates weren’t enough to quell the threat of deflation. While services grew at the fastest pace in 1 1/2 years in July, unemployment is rising and banks have kept restricting access to credit. (Bloomberg)
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German factory orders posted their biggest increase in two years in June, the latest sign that Europe’s largest economy is emerging from the recession. Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, jumped 4.5% m-o-m, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said yesterday. That was the most since June 2007 and the fourth successive monthly gain. Economists predicted an increase of 0.6%, the median of 37 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed. Orders were still 25.3% lower y-o-y. The government said its forecast that the economy will contract by 6% this year may now be too pessimistic, and some economists predicted a return to growth as soon as this quarter. Business confidence rose for a fourth month in July. The increase in June was driven by an 8.3% surge in export orders, the report showed. (Bloomberg)
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The Bank of Japan will probably forecast that declines in consumer prices will extend into 2011 even as the economy recovers, according to two people familiar with the matter. The estimate would be included in policy makers’ first economic projections for the financial year ending March 2012, scheduled for release in October, said the people, who declined to be identified ahead of the report. Central bankers have already predicted prices will fall 1.3% in the current year and 1% in fiscal 2010. Prospects for a third year of deflation make it likely Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa and his colleagues will keep interest rates near zero through next year. Japan is beginning to emerge from its worst post-war recession as exports improve and manufacturers boost production to replenish inventories. Deflation may escalate as households, whose spending accounts for more than half of the nation’s gross domestic product, delay purchases on the expectation that goods will get cheaper, restraining a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy. (Bloomberg)
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August 7, 2009 at 1:54 am Leave a comment

8 April 2009 : Newz Bits

HIGHLIGHTS

On Malaysia
· Proton in preliminary talks with Renault and General Motors on new technical alliance
· BNM reserves rises to RM320.7bn on March 31 this year
· Industrial production likely to see milder contraction in February

On The Global Front
· U.S consumer borrowings fall in February
· U.K manufacturing drops the most in at least 40 years
· U.K. service industry sales decline at slower pace in 1Q09, showing signs that recession may be starting to ease
· Japan central bank keeps benchmark rate steady
· Australia central bank cuts rates by 25bps, to the lowest level in 50 years

YTL Cement (YTLC MK, Buy, TP: RM4.50) was granted more time to complete its proposed issue of up to US$200m (RM718.6m) exchangeable bonds, marking the 3rd time the company was given a time extension. YTLC told Bursa Malaysia yesterday it had on March 20, 2009 made an application to the Securities Commission (SC) for an extension of time up to October 4, 2009 to complete the proposed exercise. The group said that it needs the bonds issuance to raise funds to finance future investments and projects. (Malaysian Reserve)
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Proton Holdings Bhd said it is in preliminary discussions with Renault SA and General Motors Corp regarding a new technical alliance to make new models. Proton had ended partnership talks with Volkswagen AG in 2007. According to Proton’s managing director, Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamad Tahir, the alliance is “vital” in achieving economies of scale. An alliance with a foreign car maker may also build other models which could be sold jointly in overseas markets.
Proton is focusing on Middle East, China, India, and Southeast Asia to reduce its dependence on domestic sales. In addition, Proton needs a partner to develop a new version of its Perdana luxury sedan by 2010. (Financial Daily)
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Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) international reserves rose to RM320.7bn on March 31 this year from RM314bn as at March 13 2009. In a statement yesterday, BNM said the reserves position was sufficient to finance 7.9 months of retained imports and was 4x the short-term external debt. The latest reserves level accounted the quarterly adjustment for the foreign exchange revaluation gain following the strengthening of some of the major currencies against the RM during the quarter (Malaysian Reserve)
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Malaysia’s crude palm oil (CPO) inventories in March are likely to lower to 1.5m tonnes compared to 1.56m tonnes in February as planters have embarked on their replanting plan on their plantation estates. Plantation Industries and Commodities Minster Datuk Peter Chin said the government had approved oil palm replanting on some 106,330 hectares. Under the replanting scheme announced late last year, the government has targeted some 200,00ha of land for replanting. Planters who carried out replanting would receive RM1k per ha of plantation land cleared for new plantings. (Financial Daily)
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Industrial production, which took a sharp 20.2% fall in January, is likely to see milder contraction in February. Economists expect the industrial production index (IPI) to improve following the better showing of exports in February, and last year’s base effects due to the Chinese New Year festivities. The Statistics Department will release the data tomorrow. (BT)
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Barisan retained the Batang Ai state seat, which it won in 2006 elections while Pakatan coalition members PAS and PKR regained the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat and Bukit Selambau state seats respectively which they won in the 2008 general election. (The Star)
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Stocks fell Tuesday, retreating for a second straight session after a four-week advance, on worries about banks and autos and the start of the quarterly reporting period. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2.3% (-186.3 pts, close 7,789.6). The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost 2.4% (-19.9 pts, close 815.6) and the Nasdaq composite lost 2.8% (-45.1 pts, close 1,561.6). In currency trading, the dollar gained versus the euro and the yen. U.S. light crude oil for May delivery fell US$1.90 to settle at US$49.15 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (CNNMoney)
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The pace of borrowing by U.S. consumers fell in February as fewer Americans sought credit to make purchases amid what may become the worst recession in seven decades. Consumer credit fell by US$7.48bn, or 3.5% at an annual rate, to US$2.56trn, the Federal Reserve said yesterday. Credit increased by US$8.14bn in January, more than previously estimated. The Fed’s report doesn’t cover borrowing secured by real estate. Demand for credit in the U.S. probably shrank further in March, the fourth straight month job losses exceeded 650,000, as unemployment climbed and banks remained reluctant to extend affordable loans. Economists had forecast consumer credit would drop US$3bn in February, according to the median of 32 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey. (Bloomberg)
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Europe’s recession deepened more than estimated in 4Q08 after companies scaled back production and consumer spending declined. Gross domestic product in the euro region fell 1.6% from the previous three months, the most in at least 13 years, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said yesterday, revising a March 5 estimate of a 1.5% contraction. Investment plunged 4%, also more than estimated, and household spending fell 0.3%. The economy, which grew 0.8% in 2008, may shrink 4.1% this year, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has forecast. The European Central Bank is examining new non-standard measures to stimulate the economy after cutting interest rates to a record low. (Bloomberg)
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U.K. manufacturing dropped the most in at least four decades as the global economic slump throttled demand for goods from cars to ceramics. Production fell 6.5 percent in the three months through February, the most since records began in 1968, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday. Output declined 0.9% from January. Economists predicted a 1.5% drop, the median of 30 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey showed. The slump in factory production was led by transport equipment, basic metals and non-metallic mineral products such as ceramics, the statistics office said. While the monthly drop was the smallest in six months, the annual decline of 13.8% was the largest since 1981. (Bloomberg)
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U.K service industry sales declined at a slower pace in 1Q09 in a sign the recession may be starting to ease, the British Chambers of Commerce said. The net balance of services companies saying orders deteriorated was minus 23, compared with minus 31 in 4Q08, the London-based lobby group said. A gauge of factory sales slumped to minus 55, the lowest since records began in 1989. The BCC conducted its survey of 6,500 companies from Feb. 23 to March 16. The lobby group forecasts the British economy may contract 3% or more this year as the global credit squeeze stifles trade and boosts unemployment. Bank of England policy makers may keep the benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5% this week as they buy assets with newly created money to boost economic growth. (Bloomberg)
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China’s stimulus plan may fuel the nation’s economic recovery this year, helping counter a global recession that is likely to drag growth in Asia’s developing countries to the weakest in 11 years, the World Bank said. Developing East Asia, which excludes Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore, will expand 5.3% this year, less than a December estimate of 6.7%, the lender said in its semi-annual report yesterday. Growth was 8% last year, it said. China’s 4trn yuan (US$585bn) stimulus has already driven investment back to pre-crisis levels, fuelled rebounds in electricity and steel output, and restored consumer confidence, the lender said. Asian governments have unveiled more than US$700bn in spending, tax cuts and cash handouts, and the World Bank said countries like China and Thailand can afford more. China’s central bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan has said leading economic indicators are pointing to a recovery in growth as the stimulus spending kicks in. Premier Wen Jiabao says it’s still “possible” to achieve the nation’s 8% growth target for 2009. (Bloomberg)
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Japan’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate steady yesterday but introduced new steps to spur lending and ease the strains of an increasingly painful recession. The Bank of Japan’s eight-member policy board voted unanimously to leave the key overnight call rate target unchanged at 0.1%, as widely expected. With interest rates close to zero, the central bank has little room to tweak regular monetary policy and has instead focused on measures to boost corporate financing, which has shrivelled amid the global credit crisis. The central bank already buys commercial paper and corporate bonds to help shore up banks’ balance sheets, but it acknowledged that “financial conditions have remained tight on the whole.” In its latest move, the BOJ expanded the range of collateral it accepts in an effort to funnel more funds to commercial banks and subsequently, to companies seeking loans. The bank said it now welcomes “loans on deeds to municipal governments as eligible collateral.” (StarBiz)
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Australia’s central bank cut its key interest rate to the lowest level in almost 50 years yesterday, reinforcing fears the global financial crisis has dragged the country into recession. The cash rate was lowered by a quarter percentage point to 3% and since September has been slashed a total of four and a quarter percentage points. Economists had been divided about whether the Reserve Bank of Australia’s board would cut the rate again at its monthly meeting. It left the rate unchanged last month. The cut comes after the latest official data showed gross domestic product shrank by 0.5% in 4Q08 and unemployment rose to its highest level in four years in February. Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens said recent information showed the global recession continued from last year into 2009, and most assessments for the short term were gloomy despite huge government spending plans. Australia’s economy is contracting at a slower rate than its trading partners and inflation is likely to fall as unemployment rises, so the rate cut “will provide significant support to domestic demand over the period ahead,” he said. (StarBiz)
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April 8, 2009 at 1:58 am Leave a comment

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