Oriton: ALTHOUGH the Malaysian Auto- motive Association (MAA) expects another record year for the automobile industry in 2003, one fact stands out: Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton) has to work really hard to claw back some of its loss in the car industry market share. The national car producer’s market share in the passenger car segment, though dominant, dipped to 60%, from 64% in 2001. Perodua is riding high, notching 3 percentage points to 32% in the same segment. In 2002, sales of motor vehicles surged to 434,954 units, surpassing the earlier record of 404,837 units in 1997. MAA expects sales to reach 450,000 this year.
MPI: Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd (MPI) reported a net profit of RM7.6mil for the first six months ended December 2002, which was a significant turnaround from a net loss of RM28.2mil in the previous corresponding period. However, net profit was down to RM0.6mil in the second quarter, compared with RM7mil in the preceding quarter. Sales also fell to RM210mil in the second quarter from RM220mil in the first quarter. OSK Investment Research said it would maintain a neutral recommendation on the semiconductor manufacturer while waiting for an analysts’ briefing this week. MPI's net gearing at 16% was healthy, the analyst said.
Time dotCom: TIME dotCom's proposal to return 50 sen per share to its shareholders spurred market players' interest for only a day. After hitting a high of RM1.81 on the day of the announcement, the share price drifted lower for the rest of the week. Time dotCom is proposing a cash distribution of RM1.265bil from the proceeds of the sale of TimeCel Sdn Bhd to Maxis Communications Bhd for RM1.325bil cash. Following the sale, the telecommunications player is only left with its fixed line operations. According to analysts' estimate, Time dotCom's largest shareholder Time Engineering Bhd will receive RM570mil and Khazanah Nasional Bhd, RM380mil.
PLUS: WHAT if Expressway Lingkaran Tengah Sdn Bhd (ELITE) were injected into Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan Bhd (PLUS)? An analyst said one should look at the situation cautiously. He reasoned that while it was not easy for PLUS to clean up its balance sheet, PLUS' gearing level would rise again if it were to take on another highly-geared entity. ELITE has loans of about RM1bil currently. Although ELITE incurred an operating loss in 2002, its management said ELITE was expected to return to the black this year, amid rising volume and interest savings, following the restructuring of its commercial loans into Islamic bonds. Listed on July 17, shares of PLUS have traded between RM1.92 and RM2.74.
Affin Holdings: THE 30% stake in Affin Bank Bhd owned by Affin Holdings Bhd (AHB) is still up for sale. In a filing with the KLSE last Friday, AHB said the banking group and the KAF Group had mutually agreed to stop negotiations on the proposed sale of the commercial bank. While the next buyer is yet to be known, the KAF Group is obviously losing no time in pursuing a merchant bank to complement its position as the country's largest bond and money market trader. Two weeks ago, Bank Negara gave the green light for Malaysia International Shipping Corp Bhd to start talks with the KAF Group on the sale of a 36.8% stake in Affin Merchant Bank.