KUALA LUMPUR: Earnings of plantation companies will likely have peaked in the first half of this year (1H22) due to record high crude palm oil (CPO) spot average selling prices.
Maybank IB Research forecast planters’ earnings for the second quarter (2Q22) to be higher year-on-year (y-o-y) driven by record high CPO spot average selling price although forward sales locked-in earlier by some companies may water down the full-benefits of high spot prices.
“We expect the industry to deliver its 10th consecutive quarter of y-o-y core profit after taxation and minority interests growth for the upcoming 2Q22 results underpinned by historic high CPO spot prices which averaged MYR6,552 per tonne in 2Q22.
“Palm kernel (PK), a by-product, also averaged higher y-o-y at RM3,525 per tonne but it has come off from its 1Q22 peak,” it pointed out.
Maybank IB Research said higher CPO and PK prices are expected to more than offset the weaker 2Q output.
It opined planters with high exposure in Malaysia would generally do better than those with higher Indonesia exposures due to Indonesia’ export restrictions, export tax structure and domestic market obligations imposed since early this year.
“Based on our estimates, Indonesia’s local price averaged just 13,503 rupiah per kg or around RM4,027 per tonne in 2Q22.
“This led to a widened price gap between Malaysia and Indonesia local delivered CPO prices of RM2,525 per tonne in 2Q22,” noted Maybank IB Research.
The research house pointed out that Indonesia’s three-week palm oil export ban and export restrictions throughout 2Q22 would likely benefit downstream players in Malaysia based on trade data analysis.
As such, Maybank IB Research forecast refining and oleochemical margins to be at least sustained in 2Q22.
The research house said Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd and Sime Darby Plantation Bhd’s downstream operations in Indonesia could face some delayed shipments and sales recognition into the 3Q22 due to Indonesia’s export ban and restrictions in 2Q22.
Nonetheless, Maybank IB Research said planters earnings are likely to come under pressure in 2H22 given the new minimum wage impact and high fertiliser costs amid the CPO price correction.