Tuesday, August 8th, 2017


US oil prices slip, as market struggles to get through US$50

NEW YORK, Aug 8 — Oil prices fell today, pulling back from recent gains as exports from key OPEC producers rose and despite news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia. The crude market has been in consolidation mode after a sharp rally…

BlackBerry falls after ‘sell’ recommendation from Goldman Sachs

TORONTO, Aug 8 — BlackBerry Ltd  shares fell as much as 3.6 per cent in Toronto trade today after brokerage Goldman Sachs issued a “sell” recommendation on the stock, citing concerns about rising competition in its core mobile messaging…

Europe’s biggest oil refinery said to plan key unit restart

ROTTERDAM, Aug 8 — Royal Dutch Shell Plc will attempt on Friday to restart one of two crude units at Europe’s biggest oil refinery that were halted by a fire late last month, a person with knowledge of the matter said. European diesel prices…

Naza hands over Mitec to government

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — Naza Corporation Holdings Sdn Bhd (Naza Group), Malaysia’s largest bumiputera conglomerate, has officially handed over the RM628 million Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) to the government….

BAssets looks to defend gaming business in Sarawak

KUALA LUMPUR: Berjaya Assets Bhd (BAssets), which is looking to defend its gaming business in Sarawak curtailed by rampant illegal gaming activities, sees potential in the property investment and development segment, in particular with the development of reclaimed land in front of its Berjaya Waterfront property in Johor Baru.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun owns a 39.35% direct stake in BAssets, while Berjaya Corp Bhd owns an indirect 19.56% stake.

BAssets owns Berjaya Waterfront a free trade zone that sits on 14-acre land and the rights to reclaim 50 acres of seabed for development.

According to BAssets executive director Koh Huey Min, the company is awaiting planning approval for the area to be turned into a mixed development. Environmental Impact Assessment approval has already been secured.

She expects the area which is to have a hotel, residential and commercial units and a hospital to be developed over a 10- to 15-year period.

Koh said a near-term target is to achieve 70% occupancy rate at the duty free zone, from 50% currently, by the end of year.

For Berjaya Times Square, she said it owns most of the prime floors where it can drive the footfalls in the mall.

“We’re in talks with one or two parties to monetise the Berjaya Times Square shoplots that we have,” said Koh.

BAssets’ property investment portfolio consists of Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur, Berjaya Waterfront in Johor Baru, Menara MSC Cyberport in Johor Baru and Islington on the Green in London. The segment contributed about 42% of revenue for the year ended June 30, 2016 (FY16).

BAssets’ gaming business in Sarawak licensed under Natural Avenue Sdn Bhd contributed 49% to revenue for the financial year ended June 30, 2016.

Natural Avenue is the exclusive agent for Sarawak Turf Club’s Special Cash Sweep Number Forecast Lotteries. It operates, promotes and manages the 1+3D Big/Small, I-Cash and 3D Big Series games in Sarawak with three draws weekly. It has three regional offices and 74 outlets.

“We’re working closely with the state government and police to mitigate the illegal lottery component and we’re trying to stabilise the revenue. We believe things will improve,” Koh told a corporate briefing for fund managers, analysts and media yesterday, even as she acknowledged that its property investment and development segment, may well surpass contribution from gaming.

BAssets is reviewing whether it should take gaming out of BAssets in its effort to become syariah-compliant.

Another potential growth area for the company is its automotive segment, which came with the entry of Oriental Assemblers Sdn Bhd last June which is involved in vehicle assembly, manufacturing and sale of engines and transmission. The subsidiary is looking to announce a venture with a major Asian automotive brand in Malaysia in six months.

Koh said it signed a non-disclosure agreement with the brand to represent it in Malaysia.

VW offers rebates in Germany to trade in dirty diesel cars

BERLIN, Aug 8 — Volkswagen AG is offering as much as €10,000 (RM50,625) to drivers in Germany willing to trade in older diesel cars for a newer auto, intensifying a push to get aging vehicles off the road amid intensifying crackdowns on…

GDEX seen shielded from yield pressures

PETALING JAYA: GD Express Carrier Bhd (GDEX) remains shielded by its presence in the business-to-business (B2B) segment, even as delivery players in the e-commerce (business-to-consumer or B2C) segment face yield pressures.

MIDF Research said B2C players are facing yield pressures due to new entrants in the market and existing players adding capacity, which has worked in favour of e-commerce platforms who gain bargaining power in negotiating for lower delivery rates.

“Exacerbating matters are platforms like Lazada who continue to grow at blazing speed, doubling its sales in 2016 with a similar target for 2017. As volumes grow, e-commerce platforms are able to negotiate thinner rates with express delivery partners in return for a share of its large parcel volumes,” it said in its report yesterday.

However for GDEX, the bulk of its revenue remains anchored on its B2B business although the B2C segment has been its key growth driver in recent years.

It derives some 70% of its revenue from the B2B segment, with clients comprising banks, telcos, multinational companies and small and medium enterprises.

MIDF Research said the company’s emphasis on the B2B segment enables it to not overly pursue B2C contracts and instead, allow the market to consolidate.

Meanwhile, the company continues to expand its sorting capacity, improve the quality of its service and enhance its IT systems while a rainy day fund of RM277.6 million allows it to ride out any potential volatility.

In terms of expansion, GDEX initially planned to set up a new sorting hub in Sungai Buloh by 1H18 with additional capacity of 60,000 parcels per day. However, it is now exploring a more cost-effective method of upgrading its Petaling Jaya sorting hub, which would give it similar capacity additions.

“In addition, GDEX has obtained the permit to grow its vehicle fleet by another 200 trucks, which could boost its fleet from 864 to more than 1,000 by end-2017,” said MIDF Research.

GDEX is also keen to regain the syariah-compliant classification in the next update in November this year and has taken the required steps to fulfill the requirements, pending an evaluation by the Syariah Advisory Council.

Recall that its syariah-compliant status was removed in May, when its cash over total assets in conventional accounts breached the 33% limit, prompting a brief sell-off which saw the company’s shares price dip 7.7% in the ensuing three trading days.

MIDF Research also noted that GDEX could exercise its equity conversion sooner than the five year conversion period once it is on a stable footing.

GDEX is currently focusing on improving its cash flow position, reporting standards and IT systems.

MIDF Research maintained its “neutral” call on GDEX with an unchanged target price of 70 sen, a valuation which assumes weighted average cost of capital of 8.5%, high growth period between 2020 and 2027 of 9.5% and terminal growth rate of 3.5%.

“GDEX has had an outstanding run, with its share price ascending 60% year-to-date. We believe the company is fully valued for now, hence our neutral recommendation,” it said.

Tien Wah Press posts RM14m net loss in Q2

PETALING JAYA: Tien Wah Press Holdings Bhd, which is closing down its 57-year-old printing business in Malaysia, swung to the red registering a net loss of RM14.45 million for the second quarter ended June 30, 2017 against a net profit of RM6.12 million in the previous corresponding period.

It explained that the results were impacted by the cessation of the group’s Australian printing operations announced on June 15, which resulted in an one-off redundancy expenses of RM20.3 million and an impairment loss of machinery of RM11 million.

Excluding the non-recurring expenses, Tien Wah said its profit before tax for the second quarter would have been RM2.8 million. Second-quarter revenue rose 33.6% from RM81.17 million to RM108.47 million.

It has proposed to declare an interim dividend of 2 sen per share for the quarter under review.

Tien Wah told Bursa Malaysia that the 2017 outlook continues to be challenging.

“The tobacco industry continues to face challenges from illicit trade and anti-smoking legislations,” it said.

The group said it continues to review the current footprint, while focusing on growth opportunities in Indonesia and Dubai.

“The group will also continue to identify growth opportunities in other geographical segments,” it added.

For the first six months of the year, Tien Wah reported a net loss of RM10.32 million versus a net profit of RM11.72 million in the same period last year, with revenue increasing 33.8% from RM163.56 million to RM218.86 million.

The stock fell one sen RM1.73 on some 73,000 shares done, bringing it a market capitalisation of RM250.41 million.

Hartalega earnings up 72% in first quarter

PETALING JAYA: Hartalega Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2017 rose 71.6% to RM96.39 million from RM56.18 million a year ago, mainly due to increase in sales volume and average selling price, strengthening of US dollar and improvement in operation efficiency.

Its revenue increased by 49.6% to RM601.04 million compared with the corresponding quarter of previous financial year of RM401.83 million in line with the group’s continuous expansion in production capacity and increase in demand.

Hartalega said demand for rubber gloves remains in resurgent mood with demand supply dynamics in healthy balance. The nitrile wave continues with 60% of Malaysian rubber glove export denominated by nitrile gloves. Hartalega NGC’s capacity growth is on track to meet the increasing demand for rubber gloves.

“We have completed commissioning of Next Generation Complex (NGC) Phase 1 comprising Plant 1 and 2 in early 2016 and have completed Phase 2 Plant 3 in June 2017. We will begin commissioning of the first production line at Plant 4 in August 2017 and the remaining production lines will be commissioned progressively. Plant 4 is scheduled to complete in first quarter of calendar year 2018. The progressive commissioning of Plant 4 is expected to contribute further to group earnings,” Hartalega said in a stock exchange filing.

The group said it continues to forge forward by focusing on quality, maintaining high utilisation rates and concerted efforts to enhance efficiency via cost management, economies of scale and technological integration in order to sustain organic growth.

“We remain committed to executing our deliverables and meeting our targets.”

Sultan of Johor now 7-Eleven Malaysia’s second largest individual shareholder

KUALA LUMPUR: Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor is now 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s second largest individual shareholder with a 8.44% stake after acquiring 93.70 million shares in 7-Eleven Malaysia since July 2017.

7-Eleven Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdull Hamid said on behalf of the board of 7-Eleven Malaysia, it welcome Tuanku as one of its substantial shareholders especially at a time when it is expanding its retail footprint to increase its market share and sustain its profitability.

“This truly reflects Tuanku’s confidence in the performance and future potential of 7-Eleven Malaysia. We believe that with a shareholder of Tuanku’s stature, 7-Eleven’s position in the retail industry will be further strengthened,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 7-Eleven Malaysia’s largest shareholder Tan Sri Vincent Tan said this augurs well for the company given that Tuanku is known to be an astute investor with a keen eye for companies and businesses with strong fundamentals and good growth potential.

7-Eleven posted a revenue of RM2.10 billion with a pre-tax profit of RM70.82 million in the financial year ended Dec 31, 2016.