Stocks on the radar

Possible M&A: Shareholding changes suggest that Alliance Bank could be poised for an M&A down the road.

IT IS safe to say that markets will tread in uncharted waters with Malaysia having a change in government for the first time in history,

The general consensus is that the stock, currency and bond markets may experience volatility over the short term before stabilising, helped by the new government, Pakatan Harapan’s plans for reforms.

So far, there have been some indication from the new government that there will be a focus on a handful of areas which include finance, education and technology.

Strategists are also expecting a review of government spending where mega projects such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) and the KL-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) are concerned.

“There may be questions and policy uncertainty in the near term following the election results,” Standard Chartered Global Research says.

It made 10 promises for the first 100 days of its administration and we may see uncertainty related to some of them, which include revisiting mega projects, it adds.

Below is a handful of stocks likely to be in focus as a result of the general election (GE) outcome.

Opcom Holdings Bhd

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, is one of the main shareholders of this company while his brother Tan Sri Mokhzani Mahathir is the chairman and executive director at the firm.

Opcom is a company involved in the manufacture of fiber optic cables and cable-related products.

Its business has since five years ago diversified and it is today in engineering services, engineered plastic materials and thixotropic gels as well.

In the past, Opcom was seen as largely out of favour with the-then ruling government and had at one point been raided by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).

The stock bounced back on to investors’ radar recently, attracting much attention in the week leading to the GE where its shares rallied almost 50% to 60.5 sen.

For its latest quarter ended Dec 31, 2017, Opcom reported a net profit of RM586,000 on a revenue of RM27.5mil.

Opcom said the last financial year was “very challenging” for the local fiber optic cables industry due to continued weak industry price levels, the strengthening of the US dollar and a much more competitive market environment.

Its selling margins continue to be under pressure due to competition from imported cables, it adds.

MyEG Services Bhd

This company is well-known for its political connections with the previous ruling party.

It started out as a government concessionaire which provides services including road tax renewal, foreign worker permit renewal, summons checking and zakat payments, but has since evolved into a provider of commercial services such as hire purchase and insurance services as well.

Its stock has been the darling of the market for many years now, with its market capitalisation having grown from just over RM100mil since its listing in 2007 to billions now.

At the current price of RM2.58, the MyEG stock is valued at over 30 times its forward earnings.

In terms of earnings, the company made a net profit of RM59mil in its latest quarter compared with a net profit of RM47.6mil in the same period a year ago.

Over the last five years to 2017, the company has registered a compounded annual growth rate of more than 45% profit-wise, and close to 37% on its revenue.

Via its latest annual report, the management told shareholders that the outlook for the company “remains positive” over the longer term.

MyEG’s single largest shareholder is its managing director Wong Thean Soon who has a 7.73% direct stake and an indirect stake of 31.79%.

AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank)

AmBank generated much attention back in 2015, with buzz relating to million-ringgit fines that were imposed on the bank with respect to non-compliance of certain regulations in relation to scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

While it has paid the fines and has said some time ago that it does not expect any more fallout on transactions undertaken by 1MDB, the issue could surface again if there are fresh investigations into 1MDB.

Notably, AmBank was involved in 1MDB’s first bond issuance of RM5bil in 2009.

In 2016, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) said action had been taken against two AmBank employees for covering up transactions involving money-laundering activities linked to 1MDB.

Fundamentally, analysts say AmBank is on track to achieving its Top Four or T4 strategy, where it wants to become among the country’s top-four banking groups by 2020. It made a net profit of RM219mil on a revenue of RM2.16bil in its latest quarter ended Dec 31, 2017 and has seen many changes at its top management that is now helmed by Datuk Sulaiman Tahir.

Malayan Banking Bhd and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd

Some foreign analysts have said that the two top banks in the country may feel the impact of a review of mega projects by the new government, as it could lead to possible reduced issuance of bonds.

Because of their sheer size, Maybank and CIMB are the largest issuers of bonds and are part of a larger international consortium to underwrite large issues.

Within the banking industry, there are also growing concerns that the upcoming financial results of lenders in general could be impacted by the new accounting standard, MFRS 9, which requires banks to set aside more provisions for doubtful debts.

Meanwhile, an additional distraction for CIMB is that it is headed by Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, who is the brother of former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Thriven Global Bhd

Thriven Global Bhd is a company linked to Datuk Fakhri Yassin Mahiaddin, who is the son of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the former deputy prime minister and current president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, one of the parties which make up the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan.

Thriven is involved in property development with projects across Peninsular Malaysia.

Its flagship project is Lumi Tropicana, which comprises commercial and service apartments in Petaling Jaya.

The company was previously known as Mulpha Land Bhd and changed its name to Thriven following the entry of new major shareholders about three years ago.

These individuals include Ghazie Yeoh Abdullah, who is Mulpha Land’s group managing director, Datuk Low Keng Siong and Fakhri.

Since the entry of these individuals, Thriven has undergone a transformation of sorts and now has a cleaner balance sheet as compared to being debt-laden before.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017 (FY17), it made a small net profit of RM201,000 versus a net loss of RM10.14mil in the previous year.

Shares in Thriven rallied about 30% in the week leading up to the historic GE.

It closed at 25 sen on May 8, giving the stock a market value of RM94.2mil.

Another company that is linked to Fakhri is Eden Inc Bhd, which is involved in the food and beverage and tourism businesses.

Its shares also rallied, reaching its highest so far this year last week, ending Tuesday at 17 sen.

The company posted a net loss of RM4.8mil for FY17.

Destini Bhd

Destini, an engineering specialist company for the aviation, marine, and oil and gas (O&G) sectors, is controlled by Datuk Rozabil Abdul Rahman, who is active in the Umno Youth movement.

It is also 17.3%-owned by the Ministry Of Finance via its wholly owned subsidiary, Aroma Teraju.

Rozabil who owns a 24.5% stake in the company, has been instrumental in the company’s turnaround and move away from dependency on government aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) contracts.

He surfaced in the company - previously known as Satang Holdings Bhd - in 2011.

For FY17 ended Dec 31, Destini posted a net profit of RM30.67mil - an increase of over four times from the RM7mil registered in FY12.

The company currently gets more than 80% of its revenue from the marine and aviation sectors.

Two year ago, it diversified into the rail MRO services segment and is currently completing a RM62mil job from Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd to supply 35 motor trolleys and two rail road vehicles by 2019.

Its current outstanding order book is at RM930mil, which gives it earnings visibility for FY18 and FY19.

Shares in Destini last traded at 43 sen, down by some 17% since the beginning of the year.

At this price, the stock is trading at a price earnings of 16.19 times and has a market capitalisation of RM496.7mil.

Alliance Bank (M) Bhd

One of the smallest banking groups by asset size in the country, Alliance has in the past been linked to former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin through privately held Langkah Bahagia Sdn Bhd.

Langkah Bahagia is the single largest shareholder in the bank’s predecessor Alliance Financial Group with an effective stake of 15.04%.

In April 2016, three individuals, namely, corporate adviser Seow Lun Hoo, Singapore property tycoon Ong Beng Seng and Ong Tiong Sin, who owns Singapore-based private equity firm RRJ Capital, bought into Langkah Bahagia from Lutfiah Ismail, who was an associate of Daim.

Langkah Bahagia owns 51% of Vertical Theme Sdn Bhd, which, in turn, holds 29.06% of Alliance.

The remaining 49% in Vertical Theme is controlled by Singapore’s investment arm, Temasek Holdings.

Daim is known to have good ties with Temasek Holdings, which could explain the background of the three buyers of the 15.04% block disposed by Lutfiah.

These shareholding changes suggest that Alliance Bank could be poised for an M&A down the road.

At last look, its stock traded at RM4.12 for a market capitalisation of RM6.37bil.

Its price-to-book is at 0.66 times, while return on equity is at 10.5%.

Construction stocks

With Pakatan’s promise to review major public projects including those financed outside of the development budget such as the ECRL and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project, construction stocks will come under the spotlight.

Gamuda Bhd, for instance, has extensive tender exposure to the MRT 3 and HSR projects, as well as highway concessions.

Elsewhere, YTL Corp Bhd has also emerged as a major proxy for rail contracts in Johor through its just-secured RM10bil-RM12bil southern HSR project delivery partner (PDP) job and the impending official award of the RM12.4bil Gemas-JB rail double-tracking project.

Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), meanwhile, will also be closely watched for its exposure to HSR and the Eastern Dispersal Link, while construction outfit Protasco Bhd has exposure to government road maintenance and housing projects. Protasco is a company once linked to former Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Another construction company linked to highway and rail contracts is IJM Corp Bhd.

George Kent Malaysia Bhd has also in recent years diversified into the rail engineering business and will be in focus for its reliance on government jobs.

At the moment, the company is the PDP for the LRT project from Bandar Utama to Klang.

Early this year, George Kent collaborated with four foreign companies to form a consortium to bid for the HSR project.

Another consortium which it is involved in, made of Gamuda-MMC-George Kent, is also seen as a strong contender to secure the MRT 3’s Circle Line turnkey contract.

Among the smaller, mid-cap construction players, Gabungan AQRS Bhd and Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd will be watched for their exposure to infrastructure projects.

CIMB Research in a report earlier this week noted that the construction index is down more than 11% year-to-date.

Gamuda has somewhat bucked the negative trend and is up some 4% since the beginning of the year.

MMC Corp Bhd, Malakoff Bhd & DRB-Hicom Bhd

These three stocks have a common controlling shareholder in the form of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, who is seen as an associate of Dr Mahathir,

MMC Corp has ownership stakes and operations in the shipping, energy and construction industries.

It is said that the group could do more to sweat its assets, including a possible spin-off of its ports to address its debt issue.

As of Sept 30, 2017, MMC Corp had a cash pile of RM844mil but its debt amounted to RM9bil, which translates to a net debt-to-equity ratio of 0.79 times.

Malakoff, meanwhile, is the country’s largest independent power producer but its share price has remained lacklustre on the lack of new profit drivers.

The bright spot of the three is DRB-Hicom, which owns a 49% stake in local carmaker Proton Holdings Bhd.

Proton is Dr Mahathir’s brainchild and was set up in the 1980s. It recently got a strategic partner in the form of China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co Ltd, which holds the remaining 51% stake in the automotive firm.

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