Tech snaps back


PETALING JAYA: Enticed by the strong semiconductor sales globally, investors are flocking back to technology stocks, lifting the sector out of the correction mode that began in the final week of last month.

After falling by over 12% between its peak on Feb 25 and March 8, Bursa Malaysia’s technology index has recovered by 4.5%.

There is a confluence of factors that led to the return of investors to technology stocks, making the recent correction a shortlived episode, according to experts.

They included the rebound in the US technology-heavy Nasdaq index, ongoing chip shortage for the automotive business, strong semiconductor sales globally in January and the sector’s positive prospects.

An analyst also pointed out that the Malaysian stock market is a rotational play.

“Hence it is normal for investors to move out of high-growth sectors like technology and into laggard plays such as banking and then, make a return to technology stocks.

“Valuation is a key consideration here, and the recent correction in the Malaysian technology sector has, to some extent, made the valuation slightly more palatable, ” he said.

The technology index was the only index that ended in the green, up by 0.66% to 83.44 points yesterday.

The FBM KLCI, however, tumbled by 1.33% or 21.44 points to 1,595.29. The overall market breadth was overwhelmingly negative, with 860 decliners against 315 advancers. Semiconductor-related and chip stocks dominated the top gainers list on Bursa Malaysia.

Malaysian Pacific Industries Bhd (MPI), Unisem (M) Bhd, Frontken Corp Bhd and Pentamaster Corp Bhd are among the top gainers on Bursa Malaysia.

MPI jumped 52 sen to RM37.62, Frontken added 14 sen to RM5.04, Unisem rose 19 sen to RM8.05 and Pentamaster advanced 12 sen to RM5.54.

The interest in the technology stocks followed the 1.2% increase in the Nasdaq index a day earlier.

The US tech stocks rallied amid declining bond yields.

It is noteworthy that the 10-year Treasury yield dropped by five basis points to 1.68%, after touching a 14-month high last week.

The increasing bond yield rates have raised concerns about valuations on growth and tech stocks in recent weeks.

Investors’ interest in technology stocks are also buoyed by the strong demand for semiconductors globally, which is expected to continue in the coming months.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said global semiconductor industry sales were US$40bil (RM165bil) for January 2021, an increase of 13.2% over January 2020 total of US$35.3bil and 1.0% more than the December 2020 total of US$39.6bil.

“Global semiconductor sales got off to a strong start in 2021, increasing both year-to-year and month-to-month in January, ” according to SIA president and CEO John Neuffer.

MPI productsMPI products

“Global semiconductor production is on the rise to meet increasing demand and ease the ongoing chip shortage affecting the auto sector and others. Annual sales are projected to increase in 2021.”

Meanwhile, the global semiconductor materials market grew 4.9% in 2020 to US$55.3bil in revenue, surpassing the previous market high of US$52.9bil set in 2018, according to SEMI, the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing and design supply chain.

It said wafer fabrication materials and packaging materials revenues totalled US$34.9bil and US$20.4bil, respectively, in 2020 for year-over-year increases of 6.5% and 2.3%.

AmInvestment Bank Research said the increased demand for semiconductor is partly contributed by the adoption of fifth generation (5G) smartphones and increased investment in expanding 5G infrastructure globally.

Other positive catalysts included the emerging demand for electric vehicles and autonomous driving with more interest in new technologies such as silicon carbide and gallium nitride as well as growth in smart sensors.

In addition, the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies such as big data, automation, and internet of things or IoT to build a more resilient supply chain has spurred the demand for semiconductors.

“We keep our “neutral” outlook on the technology sector as we believe that the multi-year growth riding on positive prospects has been fairly valued, ” said AmInvestment Bank Research.

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