Summary of business stories from Feb 15 to 20

Proton Holdings Bhd unveiled four new special edition (SE) models in its line-up, namely, the Persona and Exora Black Edition, as well as Iriz and Saga R3 Limited Edition.

Corporate News

Worst might be over for Public Bank Bhd
  • The worst might have been over for Public Bank Bhd in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31,2020 (Q4'20), as credit cost is expected to improve in 2021 and management can front-load part of 2021 provisions into Q4'20 earnings, according to UOB Kay Hian Research.
  • The research house expects Public Bank to report a 14% quarter-on-quarter and 15% year-on-year contraction in Q4'20 earnings on the back of higher pre-emptive provisions with net credit cost coming in at 60 to 65 basis points (bps), compared with 40 bps in Q3'20).
  • UOB Kay Hian noted when Public Bank's management had formulated its 30 to 35 bps net credit cost guidance for 2020 back in Q4'20, it took into account two key assumptions, notably a more stringent movement control order (MCO) 2.0.
Fortunes lost, fortunes made
  • With Malaysia supplying close to 70% of world demand last year, this was a boon for homegrown companies such as Top Glove Corp Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd, Supermax Corp Bhd and Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd.
  • Top Glove’s founder and chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai moved up 10 rungs to take the sixth spot in 2020, following a RM12.87bil increase in his worth to RM17.34bil as at end-December 2020 – making him last year’s biggest gainer.
  • Not unlike other glove stocks, Top Glove's shares had a good run in 2020.

Jobs in demand
  • There are some jobs that will always be in demand even in a slowdown.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has also shown those who are willing to embrace diverse skills will remain relevant.
  • Research done by LinkedIn suggests that professionals with digital skill sets find themselves at an advantage in seeking employment in several fields.
  • Apart from front liners, LinkedIn said some of the fastest growing job categories in Malaysia include software engineers, marketing executives, teachers, web developers, system analysts and graphic designers.
Govt approves RM1.245bil under PENJANA SME financing scheme
  • The government has approved 6,613 applications involving RM1.24bill under the National Economic Recovery Plan's (PENJANA) small and medium enterprise (SME) financing scheme as of Feb 5, said Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
  • The PENJANA SME Financing scheme, which has a RM2bil allocation, prioritises SMEs that have never received any bank financing previously.
  • The Bumiputera Relief Financing (BRF), amounting to RM200mil by Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd (PUNB), a special fund assistance is for Bumiputera SMEs affected by COVID-19, with financing of between RM100,000 and RM1mil.

Proton unveils four new SE models
  • Proton Holdings Bhd unveiled four new special edition (SE) models in its line-up, namely, the Persona and Exora Black Edition, as well as Iriz and Saga R3 Limited Edition, priced at RM55,600, RM69,800, RM44,800 and RM53,700, respectively.
  • On the design, Proton chief designer Azlan Othman said the Persona and Exora Black Edition's black with gold accents subtly accentuated the bumpers and alloy wheels.
  • As for the interior, both models come with black leatherette seats, door trims and floor console, with the Persona receiving the black treatment for the headlining, while the Exora is fitted with an overhead monitor, he said.

i-Sinar – A RM56bil question mark
  • Under the previous i-Sinar scheme, EPF estimated some eight million members will benefit from the scheme, but with the removal of conditions imposed, all 14.6mil members will now enjoy the right to apply to withdraw their savings under Account 1.
  • Based on EPF's 2019 Annual Report, there are some 7.63mil active members with total savings of RM675.9bil while the remaining 6.96mil members are inactive members.
  • Fifth, for the inactive members, EPF does not provide the breakdown of these members and hence they are lumped together as one.
Govt approves RM12.76bil of WSP applications as of Feb 5
  • The government has approved RM12.76 billion of applications for the Wage Subsidy Programme (WSP) as of Feb 5, 2021, said Finance Minister Datuk Seri
  • As for WSP 2.0 under KITA PRIHATIN, a total of RM770.31 million has been channelled to 65,398 employers to enable them to continue operating and maintain 534,183 employees.
  • These include the creation of the MyFutureJobs portal which offers more than 200,000 job opportunities to job seekers, as well as candidate and industry matching process.

Oil rises on fears of heightened tensions in Middle East
  • Oil prices rose to their highest in more than a year on Monday, after a Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen said it intercepted an explosive-laden drone fired by the Iran-aligned Houthi group, raising fears of fresh Middle East tensions.
  • Brent crude was up 66 cents, or 1.1%, at $63.09 a barrel at 0004 GMT, after climbing to a session high of $63.44, the highest since Jan. 22, 2020.
  • US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures gained 86 cents, or 1.5%, to $60.33 a barrel.
Slick year for CPO
  • Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP), which returned to the black in financial year 2020 (FY20), will be appointing another international independent third-party to review and audit its operations in a bid to tackle mounting forced labour allegations.
  • With almost eight months of continuous engagements with various parties to tackle the allegations, SDP group managing director Mohamed Helmy Othman Basha said the appointment of the independent party, which will be announced soon, would be acceptable not only in the eyes of CBP but also the group's customers.
  • In the 4Q20, the world’s largest planter posted a net profit of RM149mil from a net loss of RM58mil a year ago on the back of higher CPO and palm kernel prices, as well as higher fresh fruit bunch (FFB) output.

Trading ideas: Genting Malaysia, Kossan, Careplus, KPJ, Magnum, BToto
  • Genting Malaysia Bhd, Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd, Careplus Group Bhd, KPJ Healthcare Bhd, Magnum Bhd and Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd are among the stocks to watch on Wednesday, according to JF Apex Research.
  • Genting Malaysia said its Resorts World Genting and Resorts World Awana resumed business yesterday evening, after the group temporarily suspended operations at the resorts, following the implementation of the Movement Control Order from Jan 22 to Feb 4.
  • Separately, the company said Resorts World Birmingham and all other land-based casinos in the UK remain temporarily closed until further notice.
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