Tuesday, August 7th, 2018


US stocks rise on positive earnings momentum

NEW YORK, Aug 7 ― Wall Street stocks pushed higher early today on continued positive momentum near the finale of a strong second-quarter earnings season. About 10 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.4 per cent at…

Hartalega’s Q1 profit up 29.6% on higher sales

PETALING JAYA: Hartalega Holdings Bhd’s net profit soared 29.6% to RM124.87 million for the first quarter ended June 30 compared with RM96.39 million, driven by higher sales volume and additional production capacity.

Its revenue rose 17.5% to RM706.35 million from RM601.04 million.

The glove manufacturer said in a filing with the stock exchange that lower costs of nitrile, chemical and upkeep of plant and machinery also contributed to the higher earnings.

It said prospects for the rubber glove manufacturing sector remain strong with increasing demand arising from switching trends towards nitrile glove.

In meeting the rising demand, Hartalega NGC began commissioning Plant 5 in August 2018 with construction of Plant 6 to follow. Each plant will have annual installed capacity of 4.7 billion pieces.

“A new plant – Plant 7 is also in the expansion pipeline – will tailor to small orders and focus more on specialty products. Plant 7 will have an annual installed capacity of 2.6 billion pieces.”

The group is also working on securing Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval for US market. The antimicrobial gloves will be priced competitively to encourage better take-up.

Advancecon bags river upgrade contract

PETALING JAYA: Advancecon Holdings Bhd has been awarded a RM27.34 million contract by Sime Darby USJ Development Sdn Bhd, for the construction and completion of river upgrading works for Sungai Puloh and Sungai Parit Enam at Bandar Bukit Raja (Stage 2) in Klang.

The group told Bursa Malaysia that the estimated contract duration is 12 months from site possession in August.

Prior to this latest contract, Advancecon had previously undertaken river alignment works, earthworks and other services for Phase 1 of the Bandar Bukit Raja township.

The group has secured new wins worth of RM417.9 million in this year, surpassing the RM218.6 million won in the previous year.

Former Aircel CEO steps down from Maxis board

PETALING JAYA: Maxis Bhd non-executive director Kaizad B. Heerjee has stepped down from his post after the telco was allegedly embroiled in illegal money trails in India.

Kaizad, a Singapore national, was India’s Aircel Ltd CEO. He quit the debt-ridden firm last May.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Maxis said Kaizad’s resignation was due to personal reasons.

Besides Maxis, it was reported last month that India’s Central Bureau of Investigations had filed a fresh charge sheet on several local tycoon Ananda Krishnan-controlled companies, including Bumi Armada and Bumi Armada Navigations (Malaysia) in relation to two illegal payments in the Aircel-Maxis case.

Maxis and Bumi Armada, however, clarified that they had not been served with any documents regarding the charge sheet.

According to Maxis’ latest annual report, Kaizad has more than 20 years of international senior management and leadership experience in the private and public information and communication technology sectors across Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Europe and Malaysia.

In a separate filing, Maxis also announced the departure of another non-executive director Naser Abdulaziz A. AlRashed, citing personal reasons.

Inta Bina awarded RM62m construction job

PETALING JAYA: Inta Bina Group Bhd has secured a construction contract worth of RM62.64 million.

The group said in a filing with the stock exchange that its wholly owned subsidiary Inta Bina Sdn Bhd (IBSB) had on Aug 7 agreed and accepted the letter of award from DTLM Design Group Sdn Bhd for the appointment of IBSB as the main contractor to construct 79 units of bungalow, two TNB substations and two guard houses for Eco Majestic Sdn Bhd in Hulu Langat, Selangor.

Pursuant to the contract, the scope of works includes but not limited to superstructure, architectural, mechanical and electrical works.

The contract period is for 20 months commencing from the date of site possession on Aug 15. It is expected to contribute positively towards Inta Bina’s future earnings.

Its shares closed unchanged at 33 sen today on 341,800 shares done.

‘Third national car will not be like Proton’

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), which is confident of completing its review of the National Automotive Policy (NAP) by year-end, assured that the third national car mooted by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will not be like Proton, according to Miti Deputy Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.

He said Mahathir’s concept of the national car project is not about going back to Proton, but for energy efficient vehicles (EEV).

Ong said the NAP needs to look at new mobility pathways, trends in driving patterns, and be adjusted with the improvement in public transportation and vendor development in the ecosystem.

“There are many things that can be updated in terms of how we want to make the aspiration of Dr Mahathir to propel the automotive industry into something more sustainable and green.

Inputs from the industry and stakeholders are important to help Miti shape this NAP. We hope the public do not think that Dr Mahathir’s intention is to revive Proton as Proton 2.0. There are many more ideas that he has,” Ong told reporters at the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce-Shell Premier Luncheon: Sustainability in Business, today.

He said the third national car project will be open to all inputs and ideas of cooperation.

“Dr Mahathir has spoken on the possibility of having an Asean car with cooperation with Indonesia, so there is opportunity to explore with other players, but looking at the angle of how the NAP is going at an international level, moving towards electric cars and EEV, and the value chain that comes along it, which includes electronics, artificial intelligence, internet of things – that would be part and parcel of the ecosystem.”

On the matter of free trade deals, Ong said the government needs to decide on the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) first before it can discuss on free trade agreements (FTA) with other countries, but remains committed to the existing FTAs.

“We’re already negotiating RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) and is part of the countries negotiating it. Whatever happens to CPTPP will not affect our direct participation in RCEP at this point in time,” said Ong.

Earlier at the event, Ong spoke about the government’s short term priorities in reforming for sustainability, which are to reduce and restructure national debt, put in place institutional and policy reform and design new narratives and strategies for investment and growth.

He said ministers will need three to six months to get a complete grasp of their respective ministries.

Its long term priorities are to realign the country’s fiscal structure and priorities, reform institutions for sound leadership, policy and justice, as well as to change the underlying structure of the Malaysian economy. This will take two to five years, before the 15th General Election.

Smaller price hike seen under SST, says finance minister

PETALING JAYA: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng assured that any price hike under the sales and services tax (SST) will not be as high as those seen under the goods and services tax (GST) regime.

“The federal government opined that the inflation rate will be contained and the price hike will not be higher than the GST period. If there is price increase, the impact from the SST is just half of the GST,” he said when tabling the Sales Tax Bill 2018 for the second reading at the Dewan Rakyat today.

Lim attributes the expected smaller price hike and low inflation rate to lesser debt burden, lower number of goods and services taxed as well as tax registrants, better business cash flow and high annual turnover threshold.

“At the same time, the zero-rated GST which was implemented since June 1, is proven to have reduced prices of goods. The consumer price index (CPI) moderated to a 0.8% growth in June from 1.8% in May. The July and August figures, which are yet to be announced, are expected to stay at low levels.”

Lim said the government will, through the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, take precautionary measures and enforce the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011 to prevent any parties from making excessive profits from the SST reintroduction.

He said the government expects tax collection to reduce by RM17 billion with the removal of GST and reintroduction of SST.

“In other words, this RM17 billion will be returned to the people and directly benefit them,” Lim said.

For 2019, tax collection is expected to be reduced by RM23 billion.

As the annual turnover threshold for the sales tax will be revised upward to RM500,000 from RM100,000, he said small-sized manufacturers will be exempted from the tax.

“With the higher threshold, the government estimates that only 27,456 manufacturers have to register under the sales tax against 32,725 manufacturers under the GST. Following that, a majority of manufacturers will fall out of the scope of the sales tax, which will reduce the cost of tax compliance and administration for small-sized manufacturers.”

Lim said the World Bank had forecasted that Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) could expand 0.2% with the lower tax burden.

“The proposed sales tax model will also ensure that Malaysian exported goods are more competitive with several facilities given to registered manufacturers, including the tax exemption measure. With this, the government expects that it could achieve a GDP growth of 5.5% to 6% in 2018.”

He added that the government is studying other structural problems in the domestic economy, such as monopolistics practices, which exert price pressures on the people.

Takeover of IJM Plantations unlikely

PETALING JAYA: A takeover of IJM Plantations Bhd, eyed due to increased demand for matured plantations in Sabah, is unlikely to materialise, said UOB Kay Hian (UOBKH).

According to a daily, suitors for IJM Plantations include IOI Corp Bhd and Hap Seng Plantations Holdings Bhd. IJM Plantations has 61,000ha of planted area in Sabah, Kalimantan and Sumatra.

“We reckon that IOI’s takeover of IJM Plantations is unlikely to materialise due to the pricing, and this acquisition will increase IOI’s net gearing ratio significantly,” said UOBKH in its Malaysia Daily highlights.

However, if the deal materialises, it would be a positive to IJM Plantations as the company is trading at a discount from the recent transacted price.

“Assuming IJM Plantations is valued at the recent transacted price in Sabah of RM65,000 per ha and US$10,000 (RM40,700) per ha for its Indonesia estates, IJM Plantations’ planted area should be worth RM3.04 billion or RM3.47 per share, representing share price upside of 54% or implied FY19F PE of 37 times (vs IOI’s FY19F PE of 23 times),” said UOBKH.

Based on PE valuation, IJM Plantations is trading at high PE of 31 times FY19F PE.

Over at IOI, 70% of the total proceeds from the disposal of Loders Croklaan Group has been used to pare down borrowings and paid out as special dividends while the remaining 30% (about RM1.2 billion) will be used as working capital.

If the deal materialises, UOBKH reckons that IOI would need to fund the acquisition via borrowing, which will result in net gearing ratio increasing to 0.81 times, higher than the net gearing ratio of 0.78 times before paring down the borrowings using proceeds from the disposal of Loders.

It noted that the high net gearing ratio is above management’s comfort level of below 0.5 times while the cash reserves are more likely to be used for replanting. About 17% of IOI’s planted areas are more than 18 years old.

UOBKH maintained its “hold” call and target price of RM2.33 for IJM Plantations. It also maintained its “sell” call and target price of RM3.70 for IOI. There are no changes in its net profit forecasts for both companies.

Ringgit closes higher against US dollar for 2nd consecutive day

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit closed higher against the US dollar for the second consecutive day after hitting the lowest point this year in early trade, dealers said.

At 6pm, the ringgit closed at 4.0740/0790 against the greenback versus 4.0770/0820 on Monday.

A dealer said the ringgit depreciated to 4.0860 in early trade, its lowest since Dec 27, 2017, before recovering on mild buying interest despite weaker regional sentiment and trade tension.

“Most regional currencies weakened against the greenback after US reintroduced sanctions on Iran, adding to the already bearish sentiment escalating from trade tensions between Beijing and Washington,” he said.

Meanwhile, the ringgit was mostly lower against other major currencies.

It depreciated against the Singapore dollar to 2.9842/9881 from 2.9840/9887 on Monday and eased versus the Japanese yen to 3.6640/6692 from 3.6631/6679.

The local currency strengthened against the British pound to 5.2819/2905 from 5.2854/5935 but decreased vis-a-vis the euro to 4.7218/7284 from 4.7134/7208 yesterday. — Bernama

Ringgit closes higher for second consecutive day

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 ― The ringgit closed higher against the US dollar for the second consecutive day after hitting the lowest point this year in early trade, dealers said. At 6pm, the ringgit closed at 4.0740/0790 against…