IT is going to be a slick year for electronic-waste recycling companies which will be riding high with many leading factors.
One is the imminent deployment of 5G network connectivity, that will be implemented in the country in the next ten months.
This is because there will be upgrades of telco towers along side the change in wireless infrastructure that would produce more electronic-waste (e-waste) than ever before.
There will also be also be a surge in demand for more electronic devices when the 5G network kick-starts in the coming months.
Perhaps, cellular devices such as phones or tablets may be discarded with the new 5G infrastructure come onstream and consumers start to discard their old devices for the faster 5G models.
All in all, the semi-conductor businesses, which initially had a supply disruption, will become far more busier.
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), global semiconductor sales are projected to increase 5.1% in 2020 to US$433.1bil (RM1.76 trillion) from US$412.3bil (RM1.67 trillion) in 2019, followed by an increase of 8.4% in 2021.
This means more waste would be generated with recyclers reaping profits.
But in the e-waste recycling business, there is more to just recycling. This industry is also highly dependent on commodity prices.
The recent soaring of industrial metal prices that have rose to the highest in years would also generate more profits for the e-recycling companies.
Remaining bullish for this year, e-waste recycling Bursa-listed Jag Bhd’s chairman Datin Stacey Tan told StarBizWeek that the group’s profitability is expected to improve this year with the constant increase in metal prices.
“We should have a positive year given the uptrend in commodity prices, 5G implementation, and the electrical and electronic (E&E) recovery. With the new norm of doing business using more electronic devices and the implementation 5G would spur the growth in telco operators and the semiconductor industry further. We, in turn, will be affected positively, ” she explains.
The group primarily trades copper, tin, gold and silver.
In view of bullish sentiments towards base metals, copper prices have touched an almost 10-year high, rising above US$9,000 per metric tonne on the London Metal Exchange (LME) last week. Besides that, Tin prices also gained more than 20% to-date.
Higher industrial metal prices, which improved Jag’s revenue was also reflected in the group’s latest fourth quarter Dec 31, (4Q20) financial results.
Jag’s revenue was up 22.3% to RM41.7mil from RM34.1mil a year ago on the back of higher sales of precious metals.
The group said the continuous strong positive movement of commodities such as copper, tin, nickel and silver had directly improved the average selling prices leading to better margins in the 4Q20.
“Recovery of global economy in second half of year 2020 had led to a strong demand of commodities thus leading to higher sales of precious metals to the customers.
“On top of this, the continuing appreciation of commodity prices had also directly contributed to the profitability of the division, ” it said.
Notably, Jag swung to the black ever since 4Q19 mainly due to high purity commodity products which were sold amid the uptrend of commodity prices.
For this year, Tan foresees metal prices, which has been rising on bets of an economic recovery, to continue with the upward momentum with the recovery of the E&E industry.
“As long as the metal prices are gradually moving up, it will be a good year for us, and we see those numbers rising, ” she notes.
To keep abreast and in anticipation of the surge in e-waste in the coming years, Jag has been upgrading its plant capacity and machineries with advance technology to enhance the production efficiency.
This is why in the past two years, the group has invested a total of RM6.2mil to upgrade the plant’s capacity and equipment, which would help recover higher yield of metals from recycling.
Tan confides that the group is currently utilising about 70% of the plant’s capacity to recycle the e-waste.
“The group is looking to invest more this year to enhance the capacity further this year, ” she says.
Last year’s movement control order (MCO), Tan discloses there was a 10% rise in MNC contracts from 2019 to 2020, reflecting the rise in e-waste that was enjoyed by Jag last year.
For this year, Tan expects MNC contracts to increase with the implementation of 5G supported by growing semiconductor businesses in the country.
Last year, Tan says the company’s supply chain remained unaffected by the MCO despite the short break.
“All our MNC contracts are still in place. Our operations are supplier-centric as opposed to being customer-centric. We produce based on how much we have sourced from our semiconductor clients, and the revenue generated is based on how much materials are procured, ” she adds.
Should there be another MCO that is required to halt businesses, Tan points out that the group is well-secured with raw material stocks piled up worth RM50mil, which would positively impacts its financial earnings.
Meanwhile, MIDF Research head of research Imran Yassin Mohd Yusof reckons that e-waste recyclers would be indirect beneficiaries from higher metal prices, hinging on how much the recyling waste is.
“E-waste recycling companies needs to recycle in large numbers to gain profits as metals in the electronic devices is not that large, ” he points out.
Given the anticipation of the growing semi-conductor industry, the e-waste recycling industry is expected to boom in the coming years ahead.