THE decline of the ringgit is generally viewed as a problem for the economy but there are always two sides to the story.
Exporters with high local ringgit-denominated content and strong external demand are the obvious winners as they are expected to benefit from the weakening ringgit.
The winners are said to be the semiconductor and technology, rubber gloves and timber-based sectors. The share prices of a number of those companies have already factored in the benefits to their business from the weaker ringgit after the currency started its decline,which was more pronounced since the beginning of the fourth quarter of last year.
On the semiconductor front, Kenanga Research says believes that industry will stay resilient with the global sales continuing to show healthy momentum. Bottom-fishing is recommended as a strategy especially with the current risk-reward ratio less favourable following rich valuations in some counters.
“Typically, first and last quarters of a calender year, the earnings for the semiconductor players are seasonally weaker.
“That said we see any price weakness in these stocks as opportunities to accumulate as the earnings shortfall could be made up by the seasonally stronger second and third quarters on the back of the resilient industry prospects,” it says in a recent report.
Screening through the semiconductor value chain, Kenanga Research sees Vitrox Corp Bhd, being the leading solution providers of automated vision inspection systems to continue benefiting from the increasing complexity of semiconductor packages, which requires enormous inspection.
PIE Industrial Bhd managing director Alvin Mui says the group would see its sales rising this first quarter.
“But this is due to the new box built products we are doing for the medical equipment segment.
“The weakened ringgit will of course boost our revenue and bottom line,” Mui says.
Meanwhile, Elsoft Research Bhd chief executive officer CE Tan says the weak ringgit has boosted orders for its LED test equipment for the first quarter of this year.
“We expect to perform by a strong double digit percentage growth over the same period last year,” he says.
Tan says the LED testers the group produces are niche products with competitive pricing.
Rubber gloves players have seen strong price appreciation since late last year. Maybank IB Research likes Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd due to its stronger earnings growth in financial years 2015 and 2016, underpinned by the full contributios of its latest three plants.
Meanhile, JF Apex Securities mentions Latitude Tree, Poh Huat and Heveaboard among the timber-based industry stocks that can benefit from strengthening US dollar against ringgit.
The US market is the biggest for the industry which will gain from cheaper ringgit-denominated local content and stronger US economic growth.
The losers from a weaker ringgit, JF Apex Securities Bhd senior analyst Lee Cherng Wee mentions, are automotive players which import a lot of parts especially for completely-knocked down vehicles.
Lee says counters such as Tan Chong Motors and UMW Holdings are likely to be affected.
RHB Research in a recent report says about 60% of Tan Chong’s manufacturing cost of sales is transacted in foreign currency (80% in US dollars) which RHB sees as a risk.
“Continued US dollar strength will crimp margins that will not be offset by a weaker Japanese yen,” it says.
Lee also predicts the consumer sector players with high imported content in dollar terms could risk slimmer margins coupled with sluggish consumer sentiment due to goods and services tax.
MIDF Investment Research analyst Kelvin Ong said he foresees banking groups with higher foreign shareholdings like CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, Alliance Financial Group Bhd, AMMB Holdings Bhd and Public Bank Bhd as banks that can be impacted by the weaker ringgit.
“Foreign shareholding may slip if the domestic currency continues to weaken. The Fed’s tightening of the interest rate turns out to be more aggressive than expected, and crude oil prices continue to be on a downward trend. This will impact valuations of banks, but on the flip side, it will present buying opportunities for investors on a more attractive valuation,’’ he says.