Thursday, December 28th, 2017


Wall Street higher as tech stocks advance

NEW YORK, Dec 28 — Wall Street’s main indexes rose in thin holiday trading today, helped by gains in technology stocks. Apple was the biggest driver of the three indexes, with the high-flying FANG stocks — Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and…

New York mulling own tax changes after US tax overhaul, governor says

WASHINGTON, Dec 28 — The governor of New York said today that the state was considering restructuring its tax code in response to a federal tax overhaul bill that recently became law, which he said may be unconstitutional. Republicans in…

Oil & gas stocks on Bursa extend bullish run

PETALING JAYA: Oil and gas (O&G) stocks, particularly refiners, continued to draw strong interest on the local bourse yesterday, after global crude oil prices hit the US$60 (RM244) level.

Hengyuan Refining Co Bhd and Petron Malaysia Refining & Marketing Bhd were among the top gainers on Bursa Malaysia.

Hengyuan, which has jumped more than sevenfold year to date, surged RM1.46 or 8.85% to RM17.96 with 6.7 million shares traded, giving it a market capitalisation of RM5.2 billion.

Analysts said investors’ confidence in the refiner’s stock was buoyed by the recovery in global oil prices and that it had returned profitable in its third quarter ended Sept 30, 2017 on improved refining margin.

Rising in tandem with the mother stock were warrants Hengyuan-CK (+18.1%), Hengyuan-CA (+9.2%), Hengyuan-CB (+8.8%), Hengyuan-CE (+8.3%).

Meanwhile, Petron shares closed 74 sen or 5.34% higher at RM14.60 on 1.03 million shares done.

In a note today, Kenanga Research said Petron’s share price is poised for the next climb, citing that the positive hook-up in key indicators further supports the overall bullish technical outlook.

“From here, we believe Petron is on a clear path higher towards the RM13.50 resistance level and RM15.72. Conversely, the immediate support level can be found at RM12.60 and further below at RM11.28,” it added.

The top active O&G stocks were Sapura Energy Bhd, Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd, UMW Oil & Gas Corp Bhd and Dialog Group Bhd.

Brent crude hit US$67 per barrel earlier this week, the highest since mid-2015, after it peaked above US$60 per barrel for the first time in more than two years on Oct 28 following an explosion at a Libyan crude oil pipeline.

The surge in global oil prices was supported by the extension of output cuts by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and non-Opec allies until the end of 2018.

Berjaya Corp posts RM2.19 billion revenue in Q2

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Corp (BCorp) Bhd reported an 11.1% decline in revenue to RM2.19 billion for the second quarter ended Oct 31, 2017 against RM2.46 billion in the previous corresponding period, mainly due to lower revenue reported by the retail distribution and motor distribution businesses as well as the property investment and development segment.

It swung to a net loss of RM145.99 million from a net profit of RM176.51 million in the same quarter a year ago, mainly dragged by the provision for the impairment of a portion of the balance sales proceeds from the sale of the Great Mall of China project as well as the loss arising from the partial disposal of an associate company.

The conglomerate said in a filing with the stock exchange that the retail distribution business was affected by the weak consumer sentiment coupled with the intense competition in the local and overseas markets.

The motor distribution business under H.R. Owen PLC also reported lower revenue due to the softening demand in the UK car market as well as the product life cycle of the car models available for sale.

Meanwhile, the lower contribution from the property investment and development business was due to a much-reduced contribution from the group’s foreign projects in the current quarter.

However, BCorp noted that the reduced revenue from the retail distribution and motor distribution businesses was mitigated by higher revenue recorded by other segments.

“The group recorded higher revenue from the hotels and resorts business, mainly due to higher overall occupancy and average room rates, while the higher revenue from the restaurants and cafes business was mainly due to additional cafes operating in the current quarter. The gaming operations also recorded higher revenue in both Malaysia and Vietnam.”

For the first half of the year, BCorp’s top line was down by 6.4% from RM4.68 billion to RM4.38 billion, with a net loss of RM189.38 million versus a net profit of RM113.83 million in the same period last year.

Given the prevailing economic conditions and global financial outlook, BCorp directors are of the view that the group’s operating environment will be challenging going forward.

Trive Property posts wider loss in Q3

PETALING JAYA: Trive Property Group Bhd's net loss widened to RM2.8 million for the third quarter ended Oct 31, 2017 from RM304,000 a year ago, due to impairment loses from land and building as well as operation losses recorded during the period.

Revenue for the quarter under review fell by 81% to RM57,000 from RM299,000.

Net loss for the cumulative period of nine months stood as RM2.49 million compared with RM1.14 million recorded in the same period last year, while revenue rose 42.2% to RM2.7 million from RM1.9 million.

Barring any unforeseen circumstance, the group is confident of achieving a better financial performance on the back of its diversification into construction and property development through the acquisition of land in Kerteh, Terengganu; collaborations with Hubei Guang Bo New Energy Co Ltd and Fortunate Solar Technology Ltd; as well as turnkey contract awarded by Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd.

Its financial position is also expected to improve with the completion of corporate exercises such as debts restructuring plan, private placement, conversion of warrants to shares and the full settlement of bank borrowings.

On Bursa Malaysia today, Trive was unchanged at 4.5 sen with 6.53 million shares changing hands.

Tribunal upholds MyCC’s fine on MyEG

PETALING JAYA: MyEG Services Bhd said its appeal against Malaysia Competition Commission's (MyCC) fine of RM2.272 million for abusing its dominant position in the online foreign workers permit (PLKS) renewals has been dismissed by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, MyEG said the group has reviewed CAT’s decision with its legal counsel and intends to seek a judicial review and apply for a stay against the tribunal’s decision.

It reiterated that CAT’s decision is not expected to have any material financial and operational impact on the company.

CAT also imposed an additional daily penalty amounting to RM7,500 computed from June 25, 2016 to Dec 28, 2017.

On top of the financial penalty, MyEG was instructed to cease and desist immediately from imposing different conditions to equivalent transactions in the processing of mandatory insurances for online PLKS renewal applications.

MyEG is also required to provide an efficient gateway for all its competitors in the market of sale of the mandatory insurances and allow other competitors to compete at the same level within 60 days from today.

On Bursa Malaysia today, MyEG shares slipped one sen or 0.44% to RM2.24 with 4.35 million shares done.

HSS Engineers-linked firm wins ECRL job worth up to RM82.5m

PETALING JAYA: HSS Engineers Bhd’s associate company, HSS Integrated Sdn Bhd (HSSI), has bagged a East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) contract from China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd for a value up to RM82.5 million.

HSS told Bursa Malaysia that HSSI has been appointed as the supervising consultant for infrastructure works for ECRL Package 1 project from KM0 to KM231.5.

The contract will start in the first quarter of 2018 and slated for completion within the second quarter of 2024.

Previously, HSSI had also secured contracts as the design consultant for scheme designs of ECRL phase 1 and phase 2, in addition to being the preliminary design consultant for infrastructure works for ECRL from KM0 to KM220.

With this latest award, HSS has exceeded its RM150 million contract wins target. Its total contract value thus far stood at close to RM176 million.

The contract is expected to contribute positively to HSS’ revenue, earnings and net assets for the financial years ending Dec 31, 2018 to Dec 31, 2024.

AirAsiaGo: No waning demand from Malaysia on horizon

PETALING JAYA: Travel packages provider AirAsiaGo does not see demand from Malaysia waning despite the rising cost of living and weakened currency.

Speaking to SunBiz recently, AirAsiaGo general manager Darren Goh (pix) said its three-level saving initiatives, which include a monthly sale of 5,000 free seats and hotel offers, is key for the company in providing cost-effective offerings.

“People travel due to many reasons. We have a lot of business travellers as well. They might cut down on the number of trips a year and might change their destinations.We make sure we are available at all levels,” he said.

“(As for the) cost-effective travel segment … during good and bad times … you know you will have a steady stream of customers,” he added.

AirAsiaGo, which has been around for the last 10 years, serves about 5% of Air Asia’s total yearly passenger traffic. It is currently managed by AAE Travel Pte Ltd, a joint-venture (JV) company formed in 2011 between Air Asia Bhd and Expedia Inc.

The JV leverages on AirAsia’s flight passenger traffic and Expedia’s pool of hotels.
In 2015, AirAsia pared down its 50% stake in the JV to 25% for RM306 million, which led to Expedia emerging as the substantial shareholder of AAE Travel.

However, the change in shareholding, Goh said, has not brought about much change to the company’s operations.

“We have changed engine but the essence, team and product we offer are still there. It’s still a brand associated with AirAsia and we have strong content coming from Expedia … that is a winning formula. It is business as usual for us,” he stressed.

Currently AirAsiaGo has presence in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Japan and China, with the domestic market being the major revenue contributor.

On expansion plans, Goh said AirAsiaGo is looking to strengthen its foothold in areas where AirAsia already has a strong presence and in places where it will be able to tap into Expedia’s customer base.
The strategy, according to him, is to control the domestic routes which will in turn bolster its services for international routes.

As an online-based agency, Goh said, AirAsiaGo is eyeing to make China its main revenue contributor due to the size of the market and the online travel penetration level.

He said the level of online travel penetration in Malaysia – despite it being the main revenue contributor – is still comparatively low at 35% compared with 80% in China, which accounts for about 55% of Asia’s online travel business.

AirAsiaGo will continue to invest in technology, such as “machine learning”, an artificial intelligence device that tracks customer behaviour towards pricing.

Looking ahead, Goh said the group remains positive on its prospects and is hoping to grow faster than the industry’s 20% in terms of compound annual growth.

He added that AirAsiaGo will be able to unlock more potential in selling long-haul packages if AirAsia “fulfils its dreams” of flying to the US West Coast as well as resuming its European routes.

Expert: Ringgit unlikely to be affected by repatriation of funds to US

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 — The projected repatriation of funds back to the US due to president Donald Trump’s tax overhaul is not likely to affect the ringgit on the back of other favourable factors supporting the currency, economists said….

SAJ Ranhill’s Johor water services licence renewed for three years

PETALING JAYA: SAJ Ranhill Sdn Bhd’s licence as the exclusive water services operator for Johor has been renewed for three years, from Jan 1, 2018 to Dec 31, 2020.

Ranhill Holdings Bhd, which owns 80% of SAJ Ranhill, said in a statement today the renewal was recommended by the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) and approved by the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water.

“The approval was granted following a rigorous performance review, in compliance with Section 17 of the Water Service Industry Act 2006 and Section 7 of the Water Service Industry (Licensing) Regulation 2007.”

Ranhill said as SAJ Ranhill accounts for about 77% of the group’s total revenue, the renewal is expected to contribute to SAJ Ranhill as well as the group’s short- and long-term growth.

SAJ Ranhill has been the sole provider of water supply services in Johor since 1999, initially under a 30-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) concession.

In 2009, in line with the government’s aspiration to promote policy objectives for water supply services through the establishment of a licensing and regulatory framework, SAJ Ranhill voluntarily surrendered its concession and migrated to the new licensing regime.

SAJ Ranhill operates and maintains a combined production capacity of 1.99 billion litres daily. It has reduced the state’s non-revenue water, which stood at over 40% in 1999 to 24.7% at end-June 2017, with physical loss of only 15.4 m3 per kilometre of pipe per day.

SAJ Ranhill’s operation cost of RM498,312 per 1,000 account up to November 2017 is well within the key performance indicator target set by SPAN.

Ranhill group has a total of 17 water and wastewater concessions on BOT, takeover-operate-transfer and built-transfer-operate basis with an aggregate treatment capacity of 290 million litres per day (mld) and 102 mld in China (40%-owned subsidiary) and Thailand (100%-owned subsidiary) respectively.

On Bursa Malaysia today, Ranhill’s share price gained 1 sen or 1.4% to close at 70 sen on 442,000 shares traded.