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Friday, June 12, 2009

Bursa Chat News Highlights (12.06.2009)

IJM Corp Bhd's (IJM MK, Hold, TP: RM5.10) chief executive officer and managing director Datuk Krishnan Tan plans to make way for his deputy, Teh Kean Ming, in December 2010. "It's part of my own philosophy that there comes a time when you need to hand over the baton for the next guy to run. I definitely feel I've been with this company a very long time and I have also put a very long shadow on it. It's time that the new people take over and run," Tan told reporters after participating in a forum on corporate governance in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Tan has been with the company for 27 years, 12 of which was as its chief. He said he has made it a point to inform his institutional shareholders of his exit strategy and that it by no means meant that he would be totally out of the scene. (BT)

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SapuraCrest Petroleum Bhd (SCRES MK, Sell, TP: RM0.67), is bidding for some RM5bn worth of contracts, of which more than half comes from within the region, group president and chief executive officer Datuk Shahril Shamsuddin said. "We are continuously bidding, but we believe that we can secure a certain portion of these bids this year," he said yesterday on the sidelines of the Oil and Gas Asia 2009 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur. Shahril was speaking to reporters after the launch of SapuraCrest's Typhoon remote-operated vehicle (ROV) by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The company has about RM7bn worth of contracts in hand, which will keep it busy for the next two to three years. (BT)

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Wah Seong Corp Bhd (WSC MK, Hold, TP: RM1.62), is on track to making up to two overseas acquisitions in the second half of the year and will not turn to shareholders for funding. The company plans to expand geographically to achieve its targeted 25% annual revenue growth and sees vast potential for deepwater pipe-coating jobs in Brazil, West Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. (BT)

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Property developer Magna Prima Bhd will launch three projects worth over RM700m in the second half of 2009 to boost its income. Its new chief executive officer Loo Kent Choong said it will launch One Jalil, a gated development in Bukit Jalil featuring 109 units of superlink homes worth RM85m, in the third quarter. By December, it will launch Magna Prima City, a RM600m gated residential project along Jalan Kuching in Kuala Lumpur. Its on-going projects are Magna Ville in Selayang, U1 Shah Alam and Dataran Otomobil. (BT)

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UMW Oil and Gas Bhd, which is en route to a listing on Bursa Malaysia, expects to rake in some RM1bn revenue this year from its new pipe-manufacturing plant in China. President Zulkifly Zakaria said the plant in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, officially launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last Friday, began production in January. It is meeting demand not only in China but also the region. "The new plant has secured a contract to supply transmission pipes for part of the East-West Gas Pipeline project. This is our sixth plant in China," Zulkifly said. The plant is a joint venture between UMW Holdings Bhd (49% stake) and Baoji Petroleum Steel Pipe Co Ltd (51%), a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. It is one of three major overseas projects that UMW Oil and Gas is focusing on this year. (BT)

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Satellite operator Measat Global Bhd’s shares uptrend continued, climbing 3 sen, or 1.49%, to RM2.05 yesterday, despite Bursa Malaysia’s caution to investors. The caution came after an unusual market activity query on June 4, when Measat shares hit double limit-up ending 52.89%, or 19 sen to RM1.66 for that day. (StarBiz)

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Vale International SA, the world’s 2nd largest diversified metals and mining company, has agreed to buy 165.5ha in Manjung, Perak, from property developer KYM Holdings Bhd. The deal is believed to be related to recent statements by the Perak government of a RM9bn South American investment in an iron ore centre in the state. KYM in a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday said Brazil’s Vale had an option to buy another 305.95ha, putting the total amount of land available to Vale at 471.46ha in Manjung. (StarBiz)

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UEM Group Bhd has been under some scrutiny in relation to a lawsuit to the tune of RM840m by the government of Qatar over a dispute regarding a highway project in Qatar. It was reported that UEM Group received a set of legal documents from the state of Qatar on April 27. Qatar claimed that the defendants, Parsons International Ltd., UEM Group and Qatar Insurance Co, failed to fulfil contractual obligations in relation to the construction of the Salwa Road in Doha. (StarBiz)

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The Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) total investment income dropped 10.47% to RM3.26bn in 1Q09 form RM3.64bn in 4Q08. The decline was attributed to the lower returns from investments in fixed income instruments and equities, EPF said in a press release yesterday. The highest income contributor in 1Q09 was loans and bonds, which added RM1.78bn to EPF’s income. However, this was a drop of 2.15% compared to RM1.83bn in 4Q08. (The Malaysian Reserve)

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The budget for 2010 will emphasise on ways to spur the country’s economy by making it “high income” based with the services sector playing a pivotal role in the new economic model that is currently being finalised, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said. He promised that all government policies would be consistent, with no “U-turns or flip- flops”. He said policies would be designed to spur growth and instill greater confidence among investors for an improved inflow of Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), taking into account the stiff competition as a result of the global economic meltdown. (The Malaysian Reserve)

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The Sarawak Regional Economic Development Authority (Recoda) has approved 24 investments worth over RM80bn for implementation in the state's new economic growth area, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) over the next five years. The projects are estimated to generate over 20,000 jobs, excluding preparation of the basic infrastructure and plant site and construction of the factories. Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the two biggest projects approved are an aluminium smelter in Mukah and a polysilicon plant in Bintulu. Press Metal Bhd's aluminium smelter has a capacity of 100,000 tonnes per year and is expected to start production in August, with an initial production of 50,000 tonnes per year. (BT)

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The local market’s new benchmark, FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI, will be adopted on July 6th with the 30 constituents being the same as the current FTSE Bursa Malaysia Large 30 Index. Bursa Malaysia said the semiannual review of the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Index Series concluded yesterday with no constituent changes. (Financial Daily)

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Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will make a major announcement relating to greater liberalisation at the 2009 Invest Malaysia, which will be held at the end of this month. "I will make another significant announcement in line with our move for greater liberalisation to make Malaysia much more competitive," Najib said in his opening speech at the 2010 Budget Consultation meeting held in Putrajaya yesterday. Najib, who is also Finance Minister, made two liberalisation announcements in April. They were the relaxation of foreign ownership in 27 services sub-sectors and in the financial sector. (BT)

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The government’s recent move to liberalise 27 services sub-sectors has given the franchise industry a shot in the arm, says Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir. “It has enabled foreign franchisors and new brands to enter the market and support the franchise spectrum like franchisees (to foreign franchisors),” he said when

opening the Malaysian Franchise Association’s 14th annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. He said the leeway in equity control, for instance, will enable them to have 100% ownership of businesses set up here. (BT)

* * * * *

Works Minister Datuk Shaziman Mansor said the government needs to relook the stamp duty of 0.5% on service contracts, as it is having a negative impact on the construction sector. The new stamp duty rate, proposed under Budget

2009, makes a RM10m construction contract attract an ad valorem duty of RM50k. The combined effect of stamping all agreements including sub-contracting and outsourcing at 0.5% of the contract value is exponential and will be passed on to consumers, regardless of whether they are government or private contracts. (BT)

* * * * *
Stocks ended modestly higher Thursday, with all three major gauges closing at multi-month highs after the day's economic reports fed hopes that a recovery is brewing. Stocks have seesawed this week after rising Treasury yields and higher commodity prices sparked worries about inflation hampering a burgeoning recovery. Thursday restarted the advance, as a rise in retail sales and a bigger-than-expected dip in jobless claims raised hopes that the pace of the recession is slowing. But the early advance lost momentum; the S&P 500 failed to hold on after briefly hitting a key level that traders and other market pros watch. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4% (+31.9 pts, close 8,770.9). The Standard & Poor's 500 gained 0.6% (+5.7 pts, close 944.9) and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.5% (+9.3 pts, close 1,853.4). In currency trading, the dollar fell versus the euro and the yen. U.S. light crude oil for July delivery rose US$1.35 to settle at US$72.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (CNNmoney)

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Fewer Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week, indicating the deepest job cuts may be subsiding even as companies hold off on hiring. Initial jobless claims fell by 24,000 to 601,000 in the week ended June 6, fewer than forecast and the lowest level since January, from a revised 625,000 the prior week, Labour Department figures showed yesterday in Washington. The number of people collecting benefits rose for a 19th straight time to a record 6.82m in the prior week. Businesses are slowing staff reductions as signs emerge that the worst recession in at least five decades may end in 2H09. Still, economists in a Bloomberg News survey predicted the unemployment rate will climb to 10% by year-end and restrain consumer spending, muting any recovery. (Bloomberg)

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Retail sales rose in May for the first time in three months, an increase driven almost solely by U.S. shoppers returning to automobile showrooms seeking bargains and the rising cost of gasoline. The pending demise of thousands of Chrysler LLC and General Motors Corp. dealers attracted customers constrained by rising unemployment and falling home values. Retail sales rose 0.5%, as forecast, after a 0.2% drop in April, the Commerce Department said in Washington. Car dealers were among the retailers that performed the best last month. Auto sales increased 0.5% after falling 0.4% in April. (Bloomberg)

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Inventories at U.S. businesses fell in April for an eighth straight month, the longest stretch since 2002, as companies cut back in the face of slowing sales. The 1.1% decline in stockpiles followed a revised 1.3% drop in March that was larger than previously estimated, the Commerce Department said yesterday in Washington. Sales decreased 0.3%. Companies are limiting production and spending to draw down stockpiles that piled up last year when demand plunged. A record inventory reduction in 1Q09 was among the largest drags on the economy and may set the stage for stabilization and a return to growth later this year. It would take 1.43 months to deplete stockpiles at the current sales pace, the lowest reading since November. Stockpiles at retailers, the only part of yesterday's release not previously reported, decreased 1% after a 0.9% decrease the prior month. Retail sales fell 0.3%. (Bloomberg)

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U.S. household wealth fell in 1Q09 by US$1.3trn, extending the biggest slump on record, as home and stock prices dropped. Net worth for households and non-profit groups decreased to US$50.4trn, the lowest level since 2004, from US$51.7trn in 4Q08, according to the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds report yesterday. The drop in net worth is one reason Americans are boosting savings, blunting the effect of the tax breaks and income supplements from the Obama administration’s stimulus plan. One positive aspect of yesterday’s Fed report is that the decreases in net worth are starting to ease. Wealth dropped by a record US$4.9trn in 4Q08. Americans have taken on less debt as the economic recession unfolds. While the jump in savings rate to 5.7% in April was helped by an increase in incomes linked to the fiscal stimulus plan, some economists are forecasting savings will continue to rise as consumers hold back on spending. Consumer debt fell at a 1.1% annual pace following a 2% decrease in 4Q08 that was the first drop on record. (Bloomberg)

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The World Bank cut its global economic outlook for this year, citing rising unemployment and weak production. The Washington-based lender projects the world economy will shrink “close to 3%,” compared with a 1.7% contraction forecast in March, the bank said yesterday in a statement. Developing countries may need US$350bn to US$635bn this year, less than previously forecast, to counter the effects of the global economic crisis. While developed economies “seem to be contracting at a slower pace,” he said, prospects for a recovery depend on fixing credit markets and recapitalizing banks. Zoellick said requests for loans from the bank’s two main lending facilities reached records this fiscal year, which ends June 30. The World Bank’s projection in March said the world economy would expand 2.3% next year. Yesterday’s report did not include a 2010 forecast or revised 2009 projections for individual countries. (Bloomberg)

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Bank of England policy maker Andrew Sentance said the U.K. recession may be “bottoming out,” setting the scene for a recovery as soon as this year. “The very big policy stimulus that has been provided by fiscal and monetary authorities around the world should now be beginning to be felt,” he said in a speech in Aberdeen, Scotland yesterday. “We should be able to look forward to a recovery beginning either later this year or early 2010.” Data on Wednesday showed manufacturing rose for a second month in April, prompting the National Institute of Economic and Social Research to estimate the recession reached a trough in March with economic output growing in the following two months. (Bloomberg)

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Japan’s economy shrank less than the government initially estimated as business investment and inventories fell at a slower pace. Gross domestic product shrank at a record 14.2% annual pace in 1Q09, less than the 15.2% reported last month, the Cabinet Office said yesterday in Tokyo. The median forecast of 23 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News was for a

15% contraction. The decline may represent the low point for an economy forecast to expand this quarter as demand from China helps stabilize exports and leaner inventories allow manufacturers to increase output. Still, with factories sitting idle and profits falling, companies are slashing investment and jobs, casting doubt on whether the revival will last. 4Q08 GDP was revised to a 13.5% decline from 14.4%, yesterday’s report showed. That’s still the worst contraction since the government began keeping records in 1955. (Bloomberg)

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China’s spending on factories, property and roads surged by the most in five years as the government’s 4trn yuan (US$585bn) stimulus package countered a record slump in exports. Urban fixed-asset investment climbed 32.9% y-o-y in the five months to the end of May, the statistics bureau said yesterday in Beijing. Overseas shipments declined 26.4% y-o-y last month, the customs bureau said. Climbing property and auto sales, record new lending and growth in manufacturing are also signs that the stimulus spending announced in November is driving a recovery in the world’s third-biggest economy. Falling exports because of the global recession are the nation’s biggest challenge, the State Council said last month. Urban fixed- asset investment in the first five months was 5.35trn yuan. (Bloomberg)

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Russia’s economy contracted the most in 15 years in 1Q09 after industrial production plunged and the government’s 3trn rubles (US$97bn) in stimulus spending failed to boost companies and banks. Gross domestic product tumbled an annual 9.8%, compared with growth of 1.2% in the previous quarter, the Moscow-based Federal Statistics Service said in a statement yesterday. The preliminary estimate on May 15 was a 9.5% contraction. The world’s biggest energy supplier is falling into its first recession in a decade after the global slowdown sapped demand for its commodities and companies struggled to find funds. The government’s stimulus package has failed to spur bank lending, even as the central bank cut its main interest rates three times since April. GDP may slump as much as 8% in 2009, Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said last month, after growth of 5.6% in 2008 and 8.1% the year before. (Bloomberg)

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Swine flu, causing mostly mild disease outbreaks on four continents, prompted the World Health Organization to declare the first influenza pandemic since 1968. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general, moved the alert to the top of the agency’s six-stage pandemic scale yesterday on evidence the virus is spreading in communities outside the Americas. The new H1N1 flu strain has taken root in Australia, Chile, the U.K. and Spain since its discovery in Mexico and the U.S. in April. It’s the third time since April 27 that Geneva-based WHO has raised the alert level over swine flu, which has turned up in more than 70 nations as far removed as Iceland, New Zealand and the Bahamas. The move doesn’t mean there will be more deaths or severe cases, Chan said. Drugmakers will be finishing their production of seasonal influenza vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere winter in coming weeks, Chan said. (Bloomberg)

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