Magnum: Magnum has done well to outperform the KLSE Composite Index (CI) in the last three months. Net profit last year fell to RM201.2mil from RM230.7mil a year ago, the poorer-than-expected results attributed mainly to sluggish sales by the number forecasting operator (NFO) and a higher prize payout ratio. A research house thinks the increase in prize payout from January this year should see sales of the number forecasting operator turning around, with growth expected to start filtering through in 2003. According to the research house, the cessation of Magnum's sponsorship of the Formula 1 team should also boost its net profit number by a further 8% to 10%. YTL Power: In its six months to end December 2003, net profit rose to RM295.4mil from RM218.9mil mainly due to the consolidation of the financial results of its English unit Wessex Water group. YTL Power, the first independent power producer in the country, also holds a 33% stake in South Australian power company ElectraNet SA. Next on its shopping list is Britain's Midlands Electricity. YTL Power and British company Scottish and Southern Energy have been short-listed, but Midlands owner Aquila has not made a decision to-date. Malayan Cement: The deportation of foreign workers last year plus an oversupply of cement had some impact on Malayan Cement. Nonetheless, the cement producer, which has a market share in excess of 50%, managed to improve on its results last year to RM83.4mil from RM64.8mil in 2001.
Despite overcapacity, some analysts expect growth to be strong this year with the continuation of pump priming activities. Malayan Cement plans to issue a seven-year RM350mil Islamic bonds to repay its borrowings and for working capital needs. SCB Development: SCB Development outperformed the benchmark index in December, but has since become less of a high flier. The property company launched its flagship project Mutiara Damansara in November to great success, but like most property counters these days, does not thrive in a the bearish stock market. Given Mutiara Damansara's good location in the Klang Valley, some believe that the company, a subsidiary of plantation giant Boustead Holdings Bhd, could see its profile raised a notch if management was more aggressive in its launches there. F&N: Global uncertainties will make for a challenging year, but margin improvement through a productivity improvement programme, lower cost of milk powder and a new revenue stream from its China glass investments should nonetheless boost results this year. The glass division would be worst hit should war erupt, followed by dairy, according to the company. Analysts like the company's efforts to develop its isotonic and non-carbonated drinks, which have taken off well, with sales expanding by double-digits.