Curated Insights 2018.08.31

What will always be true

Think about how profound this is. One of the shortest lived mammals and one of the longest lived both have the same expected number of heart beats at birth. The term for differently sized systems displaying similar behavior is known as scale invariance and can be applied to non-biological systems as well.

As the number of employees increases, company revenue increases slightly exponentially/superlinearly. To be exact, every time the number of employees doubles (a 100% increase), revenue goes up by 112% (more than double). This corresponds to the slope of the line above at 1.12 (on a log-log scale). Note that this does not imply causality between these two metrics, but that, in a successful business, they tend to move together in some organic fashion.

For example, Netflix prides itself on being “lean”, Amazon hires thousands of warehouse workers, and Apple has a large retail presence, yet they all seem to adhere to some natural law related to company size and revenue as seen by their similar slopes. I found the same thing when comparing the number of employees to total assets as well, except the scaling exponent was slightly higher at 1.25:

Even if we cured cancer, we only add 3 years to life expectancy. Of course this is still a noble goal because it would prevent so much pain for so many people, but it doesn’t change the fact that life leads to death. It doesn’t change what will always be true. So take your 2.2 billion heart beats and make them count. They are the only ones you will ever get.

How TripAdvisor changed travel

Over its two decades in business, TripAdvisor has turned an initial investment of $3m into a$7bn business by figuring out how to provide a service that no other tech company has quite mastered: constantly updated information about every imaginable element of travel, courtesy of an ever-growing army of contributors who provide their services for free. Browsing through TripAdvisor’s 660m reviews is a study in extremes.

Researchers studying Yelp, one of TripAdvisor’s main competitors, found that a one-star increase meant a 5-9% increase in revenue. Before TripAdvisor, the customer was only nominally king. After, he became a veritable tyrant, with the power to make or break lives.

As the so-called “reputation economy” has grown, so too has a shadow industry of fake reviews, which can be bought, sold and traded online. For TripAdvisor, this trend amounts to an existential threat. Its business depends on having real consumers post real reviews. Without that, says Dina Mayzlin, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California, “the whole thing falls apart”. And there have been moments, over the past several years, when it looked like things were falling apart. One of the most dangerous things about the rise of fake reviews is that they have also endangered genuine ones – as companies like TripAdvisor raced to eliminate fraudulent posts from their sites, they ended up taking down some truthful ones, too. And given that user reviews can go beyond complaints about bad service and peeling wallpaper, to much more serious claims about fraud, theft and sexual assault, their removal becomes a grave problem.

By 2004, TripAdvisor had 5million unique monthly visitors. That year, Kaufer sold TripAdvisor to InterActiveCorp (IAC), the parent company of the online travel company Expedia, for $210m in cash, but stayed on as CEO. For the next few years, TripAdvisor continued to grow, hiring more than 400 new employees around the world, from New Jersey to New Delhi. By 2008, it had 26 million monthly unique visitors and a yearly profit of $129m; by 2010, it was the largest travel site in the world. To cement its dominance, TripAdvisor began buying up smaller companies that focused on particular elements of travel. Today, it owns 28 separate companies that together encompass every imaginable element of the travel experience – not just where to stay and what to do, but also what to bring, how to get there, when to go, and whom you might meet along the way. Faced with such competition, traditional guidebook companies have struggled to keep up. In 2016, Fodor’s, one of the most established American travel guide companies, was bought by a company called Internet Brands.

By 2011, TripAdvisor was drawing 50 million monthly visitors, and its parent company, IAC, decided that the time had come to spin it out as a separate, publicly traded entity. Its IPO was valued at $4bn, but in December, on the first day of trading, shares fell. TripAdvisor was in new and uncertain territory, and no one knew how the company would fare on its own.

Even so, TripAdvisor is still worth only half of what it was in June 2014, and its shares dropped again in August after it missed its revenue forecast. Booking.com and Expedia, which together accounted for 46% of TripAdvisor’s annual revenue last year, largely due to marketing deals, cut back on their advertising spending. Where Maffei saw positive results, the travel industry news site Skift saw warning signs. TripAdvisor had grown by only 2% in the second quarter of 2018, it pointed out, using the words “anaemic” and “sluggish” to describe its situation. Over time, TripAdvisor has grown so large that it has become difficult to explain what it is, exactly: it’s not quite a social network, though it encourages users to “like” and comment on each other’s posts; nor is it a news site, though its business is staked on aggregating legitimate sources to provide an up-to-date portrait of the world; nor is it simply an online marketplace like its competitors Expedia.com and Booking.com. When TripAdvisor first started, consumer reviews were a new and exciting thing; now they are everywhere.

How Hollywood is racing to catch up with Netflix

“The modern media company must develop extensive direct-to-consumer relationships,” AT&T chairman-CEO Randall Stephenson told investors last month. “We think pure wholesale business models for media companies will be really tough to sustain over time.”

“The single worst thing Disney could do is launch a DTC product that consumers find underwhelming,” analyst Todd Juenger of Bernstein Research wrote this month. “We struggle to see how Disney can simultaneously make this [sustained] investment while also de-leveraging, even in a stable macro environment. We fear they will either underinvest in the DTC product, or fail to delever.”

Tucows: High reinvestment rate to drive cash flow growth

“First, and probably most importantly, all of our business lines are significantly recession proof. Relatively speaking, low price items, whether they are domain names or mobile phone service or home Internet, they are core needs, things that people cannot do without. They are not luxuries. They are, in the context of today’s world, necessities. And so we believe our business to be relatively recession-proof.”

“When looking at the Ting Internet pipeline, there are a few things that I want to reiterate up front. First, we are not cash constrained. We are not opportunity constrained. We are resource constrained. There is plenty of opportunity out there.” – TCX CEO August 21, 2018


Fiat Chrysler’s cheapskate strategy for the future of driving

The role of supplier to a bleeding-edge innovator has its perks. Fiat Chrysler is currently in talks with Waymo to license the software it would need to sell full self-driving cars to retail customers. Waymo CEO John Krafcik has said he envisions sharing profits from the robotaxi business with automaker partners in the future. “We’re not disrupting this industry—we are enabling this industry,” Krafcik told Bloomberg in an interview last month.

There are also partnerships with BMW AG and auto supplier Aptiv Plc to bring limited autonomous features, such as automated steering and lane changes, to Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep, Ram, Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands starting in 2019. In that way, without paying billions for research, Fiat Chrysler may end up with access to much of the same technology as big-spending leaders in the field.

More than money, Berkshire’s Todd Combs coming on Paytm board is the best outcome: Vijay Shekhar Sharma

I will say something which in counterintuitive here; in India, distribution is king over data. I think the distribution of Paytm, the reach of Paytm is the reason of the network effect that creates its value, not necessarily the outcome of data which we have not started using yet. I could say that different verticals of our business will use it differently versus the plan that we have in terms of our distribution. Our plan is to distribute it across every nook and corner and get a larger number of consumers. That is the first success that we will have and when we build on top of it as the next set of things.

The massive popularity of esports, in charts

In terms of viewership, the big esports events post even more impressive numbers. The 2017 League of Legends world championship, held in Beijing, drew a peak of over 106 million viewers, over 98 percent of whom watched from within China, according to industry analyst Esports Charts. That’s roughly on par with the audience for the 2018 Super Bowl.

Newzoo estimates that by 2021 esports will be a $1.7 billion industry worldwide. A 2018 Washington Post-University of Massachusetts Lowell poll found, for instance, that 58 percent of 14- to 21-year-olds said they watched live or recorded video of people playing competitive video games, with a similar percentage reporting that they played such games themselves. Among adults overall, just 16 percent said they watched competitive video gaming.

The business of insuring intangible risks is still in its infancy

“Today the most valuable assets are more likely to be stored in the cloud than in a warehouse,” says Inga Beale, chief executive of Lloyd’s of London.

Intangible assets can be hard to define, let alone translate into dollars (under international accounting standards they are defined as “identifiable non-monetary asset[s] without physical substance”). Yet their growth has been undeniable. In 2015, estimates Ocean Tomo, a merchant bank, they accounted for 84% of the value of S&P 500 firms, up from just 17% in 1975. This does not merely reflect the rise of technology giants built on algorithms; manufacturers have evolved too, selling services alongside jet engines and power drills, and crunching data collected by smart sensors.

As the importance of intangibles has grown, so has companies’ need to protect themselves against “intangible risks” of two types: damage to intangible assets (eg, reputational harm caused by a tweet or computer hack); or posed by them (say, physical damage or theft resulting from a cyberattack). However, insurance against such risks has lagged behind their rise. “The shift is tremendous and the exposure huge,” says Christian Reber of the Boston Consulting Group, “but the insurance industry is only at the early stage of finding solutions to close the gap.”

The biggest antitrust story you’ve never heard

Since 1970, the share of the American stock market owned by large investment firms has grown from 7% to 70%. Collectively, the three biggest private funds — BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street — own more than any other single shareholder in 40% of the public companies in the U.S. That means they are often the most influential shareholders of companies that are supposed to be in competition with each other. Such “horizontal shareholding,” as it’s called, may erode competition, boost consumer prices, and possibly violate long-standing antitrust laws.

Respect the predictive power of an inverted yield curve

The silver lining in prior yield curve inversions is a recession did not occur immediately. On average it was 19 months before the onset of a recession. Additionally, the average return for the S&P 500 Index from the date of the inversion to the recession was 12.7%. For investors then, one need not panic at the first instance of an inversion; however, thought should be given to one’s portfolio allocations and make any necessary adjustments during the ensuing months. In short, respect should be given to the potential economic impact of a yield curve inversion.

Company Notes 2017.11.17

United Plantations Q3 FY2017 Results

In the U.S., the soy bean harvest is in full swing and weather has been favorable, hence, the U.S. soy bean production is expected to be historically high due to the increased planted acreage in combination with good yields. In South America, the soy bean plantings are delayed in Argentina due to excessive moisture and in the northern part of Brazil due to dry conditions, however, at time of writing it’s still too early to ignore an expected South American bumper crop. The increase in soy bean production is therefore expected to have a negative impact on prices during 2018 as global vegetable oil stocks are expected to recover from current levels


Hovid Q1 FY2018 Results

Preceding quarter’s revenue was affected by lower sales and products being out-of-stock as they were depleted during the period when the manufacturing licences were revoked, and production not being able to run optimally due to insufficient workers during the initial months subsequent to the reissuance of the manufacturing licences. In comparison, production for all plants are operating at 24 hours a day during the current quarter to deliver the back-orders received during the period the licences were revoked.


Ranhill Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

As for the International Environment sector, our strong partnership with SIIC has resulted in reducing the project loans’ interest with an average interest saving of approximately 1%. The joint venture is now poised to commence exploring new opportunities for industrial waste water concession contracts and other potential water related works in China and other South East Asia countries under the One Belt One Road initiative. 


Scicom MSC Q1 FY2018 Results

The BPO division has taken the following actions to mitigate the impact from clients’ change in strategy: a. Cost mitigation – The BPO division is mitigating its cost structure on two major fronts, namely controlling operations cost and enhancing utilization of the Group’s fixed asset base. For the current financial quarter under review as an indicator, direct contribution increased slightly to 30.5% as compared to 29.3% for the preceding financial year ended 30 June 2017; b. Extensive build up in sales pipeline Leveraging on Scicom’s track record and experience in multilingual contact centre management, Scicom’s business development team has been actively participating in new tenders with estimated contract value of approximately RM105 million. The management further expects to substantially successfully convert outstanding tenders from the above pipeline to commence operations and contribute to the Group’s bottom line by the fourth quarter of the current FY.


Apex Healthcare Q3 FY2017 Results

Steady revenue growth was achieved across all business units, with increased contributions from pharmaceutical sales to the Government sector and contract manufacturing services

During the quarter, the Group’s pharmaceutical manufacturing operations secured certification for compliance with European Union Good Manufacturing Practice, opening future growth opportunities.


Paramount Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

…following the completion of the Sale and Leaseback agreement with Alpha REIT to dispose of the Sri KDU campus under its asset-light strategy which generated a gain on disposal of RM77.8 million. With the completion of the Sale and Leaseback agreement with Alpha REIT, as part of its asset-light strategy,
the Group would continue to explore opportunities to enter into similar ventures in future.

With the enlarged K-12 segment, comprising Sri KDU and REAL Education which offer premium and more affordably priced alternative private and international schools respectively, Paramount Education is now able to reach a wider segment of the K-12 market. Sri KDU’s mark of excellence in quality education continues to prevail in the market. Following the success of PISA in 2012, Sri KDU International School achieved the International School Quality Mark (ISQM) Gold Award this year, the first in Malaysia and third in Asia to procure this award.


Eastern & Oriental Q2 FY2018 Results

In the past months we are beginning to see more enquiries and bookings for our existing projects in STP1 namely Andaman and Tamarind. Besides selling down our inventory to improve our cash position and net gearing levels, we are heartened by the numerous unsolicited interest in our non-core assets which we have identified for disposal.


Lay Hong Q2 FY2018 Results

The entry of NH Foods Ltd into the Company as a substantial shareholder recently has marked a major step forward for the Company’s chicken product manufacturing business in the form of new product development and market penetration.

The Company is on track with its planned expansion to increase our production capacity. Our egg production now stands at approximately 2.3 million eggs per day to date and is expected to grow to our target. At the same time, our broiler capacity will increase to cater to new requirements in our food processing taking into consideration our JV with NH Foods Ltd.

The Company is constantly reviewing its strategies and will capitalize on the strength of NH Foods to take the Company to greater heights. A new joint venture company under the name of NHF Manufacturing (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd has been set-up and is now actively working on its plant set-up and product development. As at to-date, a total of 11 products have been launched and the response has been encouraging. The Company is continuously researching on viability of new products to be developed and introduced to our production line. It is expected that new products will be launched in future.

A piece of industrial land in Selangor Halal Hub, Pulau Indah has been identified for the plant to be set up and is currently working on the factory and machinery layout. This is expected to be the site for the JV with NH Foods. Works to acquire and build the said factory is progressing in a timely manner in accordance to our planned timeline.


Evergreen Fibreboard Q3 FY2017 Results

The increase in revenue was mainly contributed by commercial run of new Particle Board Plant in Segamat and higher average selling price as the Group emphasis more on high premium products as well as impact from weakening of Malaysian Ringgit against US Dollar.

The slight decrease in profit was mainly caused by higher log and glue cost, couple with higher repairing and upgrading cost incurred on the stoppage line in Thailand plant.


Ge-Shen Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

The Group is still looking towards factory expansion across the subsidiaries to increase factory space and manufacturing assets in order to, amongst others achieve higher sales, improving cost structure and gain economies of scale. The construction and renovation of the new facilities in Vietnam is in progress despite some delays and expected to complete by beginning of 2018. Total capital expenditure is expected to increase due to higher building specifications and factory facilities investment and is expected to improve the cost structure and increase production capacities in the Vietnam subsidiary in the long
run.


Vitrox Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

…contributed from the increase in revenue recorded for Automated Board Inspection (ABI) and Machine Vision System (MVS). The increase was mainly due to higher demand from widen customer base and positive acceptance of our products.


Aemulus Holdings Q4 FY2017 Results

Aemulus continues to create growth through innovation and leadership in the ATE markets for semiconductor devices. The launching of our new RF tester, Amoeba 7600-S combines our latest technology with scalability. We believe that the technology is going to be able to serve the smartphone and tablet market well especially in the Far East region. Based on the current business trend, demand for ATE from the smartphone and tablet segments as well as the enterprise storage segment is expected to continue into 2018. The group is expecting revenue growth to further accelerate in the fiscal year 2018, led by ATE sales growth in the Far East region with US region complementing it.


Pentamaster Corporation Q3 FY2017 Results

The higher revenue recorded was mainly due to increase in sales from automated equipment and smart control solution system segment which was partially offset by the decrease in sales from automated manufacturing solution segment.


IFCA MSC Q3 FY2017 Results

To further accelerate innovation and growth within the property sector, IFCA has initiated an accelerator program with a primary focus to create greater value and solutions for the property sector together with the start-up community. In this program which is specifically focused on prop-tech, IFCA will review potential prop-tech start-ups for opportunities for investment and partnership to bring new solutions and business models into the market.


Century Logistics Holdings Q3 FY2017 Results

Following the ongoing synergy process, the Group also intends to tap on the extensive network and infrastructure of its major shareholder, CJ Logistics Group. The Group is currently setting up the necessary infrastructure to roll-out its parcel delivery operation and expects to commence the operation by the first quarter of year 2018.


Kejuruteraan Asastera Q3 FY2017 Results

To (i) grow its market share in Malaysia by increasing tendering activities, focusing on affordable housing sector and geographical expansion; (ii) strengthen its capabilities by growing its mechanical engineering services segment; and (iii) diversifying its revenue stream by providing maintenance services including upgrading, expansion, refurbishment, retrofitting and renovation projects.

Hartalega to launch ‘game-changer’ gloves next year

“Bacteria coming into contact with the glove surface will be exposed to the anti-microbial activity which, in independent testing, has achieved up to a five-log (99.99%) kill within five minutes of contact. We have successfully conducted production trials and further clinical studies are planned to quantitate the benefits of using antimicrobial medical examination gloves in clinical settings.”


Spritzer eyes export markets, to place out stake to Singapore fund

“We think that growth domestically has become a bit saturated now. So, it is a good move to explore overseas markets. The partnership with Dymon Asia Private Equity will take us to new markets and expand the business even further. They can help us with the export markets and bring the brand to overseas markets especially in the countries that they are already in. To start from scratch will be an uphill challenge and this partnership is a good way to do it. Dape would like to give its industry experience and broad networks to support Spritzer.”

Spritzer will build a single-storey automated warehouse adjacent to its current bottling plant with a built up area of about 105,820 sq ft. “The new warehouse will have an automated storage and retrieval system. The existing warehouse is operated manually and almost fully utilised now. The current warehouse will not be able to cater to our needs should inventory levels rise,” said Chuah.


MAHB dismisses competition fears in Istanbul

Some analysts believe that MAHB’s wholly-owned Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG) has benefited from the current Ataturk Airport’s space constraints as the latter is surrounded by urban areas, constraining cost-effective expansion. As such, the upcoming new airport may draw passenger traffic from ISG once it begins operations.

“We believe that both the new airport and ISG have two different markets to serve, especially considering that ISG is ideally located on the Asian side of Istanbul,” MAHB told The Edge Financial Daily. “It is strategically positioned not only as the airport serving the Asian side of Istanbul, but also as a de facto city airport, serving the whole of Istanbul. “Aside from that, ISG’s resilience compared to Istanbul Ataturk Airport during the geopolitical tensions in 2016 proved that travellers had a strong preference for our airport,” the airport group added.

It may also help MAHB reduce its exposure to lingering risks in Turkey while returning to its original intention of being a partner of ISG instead of fully owning it.


Scicom to expand digital space presence

“If you talk to anybody who has a proposition, it’s going to be an online proposition. We have all the infrastructure [for that], from building the application to doing the mobile apps to the payment gateways. So there is a huge market there [as] the future will be all e-commerce and because we have this unique set of skills where we understand customer relationship management, customer fulfilment, technical support, payment gateways, mobile apps, [and] application development — this makes all the difference. We can’t just be a call centre anymore, it doesn’t pay.”

“The strategy is to make e-government solutions a major contributor down the line, primarily as the margins are better, contract terms are longer and typically every year business increases as the population increases, so you would always have natural growth.”

“The trick is to get one new big business every year; that’s how you maintain your growth momentum. I wouldn’t necessarily agree there would be an impact; I think we have lots and lots of business in the pipeline; it’s just a matter of time to conversion.”


Mikro MSC to tap IoT to keep earnings growth momentum

“When we talk about new products, it is related to existing offerings. It’s more like an upgrade with new features, maybe with some elements of IoT. Rather than a stand-alone system, it will be an integrated system … everybody wants to have all these features but the pricing must be at a level that is right for businesses and our customers.”

Presently, the group commands about 50% of the local market share and has seen its business in Vietnam gain traction. Yim said Asean’s and Malaysia’s infrastructure growth stories are positive for Mikro MSC since its digital meters, relays and power factor regulators are used in high rises, as well as in mass rail transport systems being developed in the region.

In FY18, the group expects to complete its move to its new factory in Shah Alam — which it bought for RM11.7 million. The move is expected to cost it another RM5 million, including for the purchase of new equipment and machinery. “It gives us the opportunity to introduce new automation and other capacity that we could not do in the past as we have a larger space now,” Yim added.

Property market will be badly hit in 2018, says expert

Cheong pointed out that the RM12.26 billion is only from the primary market, which includes launches by developers. It does not include the secondary market, which is house owners seeking to sell their homes.

Cheong said this “generous payment mode” exists because developers are finding it hard to sell off their new properties. He said they are in danger of losing their bridging finance from banks if they fail to sell at least 40% of the total units. The bridging finance is used by developers to support their construction.

“This is where the danger starts. I predict if this continues, markets will crash within 24 to 30 months because consumers do not have the financial capacity to buy properties any more. Furthermore, developers who started building two years ago are expected to flood the market further with their units…So about RM16 billion of properties are waiting for buyers. But there is no demand. The reason is that people don’t have the money.”


Industrial property set to gain

The rapid growth of e-commerce, especially in Asia-Pacific, is creating new high-value assets that are now coming on stream. The industrial segment is a highly under-invested sector, as stock availability remained tight while rental rates had been on the rise over the past two years (over 30%).

The e-commerce boom will be a looming threat to retail malls, while the rapidly-growing office supply will continue to put rents under pressure. To tackle the challenges faced by the retail REITs, malls are shifting towards providing more lifestyle and food and beverage offerings, as opposed to just brick and mortar.


Will AIA, Great Eastern, Prudential list on Bursa?

There are 23 general insurers and 14 life insurers in Malaysia. Market share is more evenly distributed in the general insurance segment in terms of 2016 annualised gross earned premium, with local players comprising 52.1% and foreign players accounting for 47.9%. However, foreign names dominate the life insurance sector, with total market share of 81.7% in 2016 vs. the 18.3% of local insurers. AIA, Great Eastern and Prudential have a combined market share of 66.7% (in terms of gross earned premium).

Company Notes 2017.07.21

Pentamaster in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

The three units will be injected into PIL for a collective RM86.78 million, which will be satisfied via the issuance of 999 PIL shares to Pentamaster.

“The internal reorganisation will facilitate a more efficient group structure by way of promoting a better segregation of business responsibilities and operations for Pentamaster’s existing automated solution business and its other smart control solution system business. This will in turn enable the management of the automated solution business and smart control solution system business to efficiently allocate resources and focus on their respective businesses. In addition, the internal reorganisation will also facilitate PIL to act as the listing entity for the proposed listing.”


Icapital.biz in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

With another rate hike expected in the coming months and the Federal Reserve’s plan to unwind its US$4.5 trillion balance sheet, this is confirming what I wrote in the said commentary – “With the US economic recovery remaining intact, one can expect the normalisation of her monetary policy to proceed at a pace faster than in 2015 and 2016.” Again, we hope that investors are prepared for this in a calm manner

…in a reflection of the uncertain global economic conditions created by the US-led 2008 global financial crisis, the Bank of Italy recently advertised for 30 junior positions with an annual salary of €28,000 and it received 85,000 applications – nearly 3,000 candidates for each post. With Italy’s youth unemployment close to 40% and the overall level at 11.3%, steady jobs are in huge demand. The trouble in Italy is that, once an employee is hired, it is hard for a company to get rid of them no matter how incompetent they might be. How Italy and other European nations got into such a devastating mess deserves deep research by the government and policymakers.


Capitaland Malaysia Mall Trust in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

The decrease was mainly due to negative rental reversions from Sungei Wang Plaza as it continues to be temporarily affected by the ongoing Mass Rapid Transit works and the closure of BB Plaza. Lower gross revenue was recorded for The Mines mainly due to lower rental rates and occupancy whilst lower gross revenue in Tropicana City Property was mainly due to lower occupancy at the office tower. The decrease was mitigated by better performance from Gurney Plaza and East Coast Mall on the back of higher rental rates achieved.

As the competition in the market place heats up with the opening of new shopping malls – of which many are located in the Klang Valley – in the second half of this year (2H 2017), the Manager expects the operating environment to remain challenging. As CMMT’s malls are largely focused on day-to-day necessity shopping, they have proven resilient through economic cycles in the past and should continue to do so. The Manager also expects the recent commencement of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Mass Rapid Transit line to benefit Sungei Wang Plaza in the long term.


Maxis in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

…added 41k new subscriptions, achieving the highest net additions following the revamp of the flagship MaxisONE plan. The Power of ONE campaign which enabled subscribers to own a wide range of devices for RM1 continued to attract high ARPU customers. As a result, the Group has grown its MOP subscription base to 1.9 million with monthly ARPU of RM120, which is higher than the blended ARPU of RM102.

Prepaid ARPU was stable at RM42 per month supported by continuous growth in mobile Internet revenue…Hotlink FAST base has now surpassed 1.8 million subscriptions with monthly ARPU of RM44.

Customer demand for data continues to grow strongly, supported by the rising consumption of social media, increasing availability of TV and video on mobile devices and better user experience on mobile network.

Blended smart-phone penetration stood at 79% against 70% in the same period last year. Blended data usage grew more than double in the last 12 months and is now at 5.0GB/month. The Group’s expanded 4G LTE network, with a nationwide population coverage of 89% on a comparable peer basis, continued to be an important differentiator for customers to enjoy high speed unmatched digital experience.


Westports in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

Due to the ongoing changes in the container shipping industry, we expect our container throughput to be lower when compared to the previous year by between seven percent and twelve percent.

The second phase of Container Terminal 8, consisting of a 300-metre wharf and supporting terminal operating equipment and facilities, have just been completed and are expected to be commissioned into service soon. The total terminal handling capacity would then be increased to 12.5 million TEUs.

Construction work continues at the first phase of Container Terminal 9, consisting of a 600-metre wharf, and is expected to be completed by December 2017.


Syarikat Takaful Malaysia in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

For the year 2017, Takaful Malaysia will continue to emphasize the four core areas of customer reach, operational agility, cost competitiveness and stakeholder confidence to increase its overall market shares and continuously improving shareholders’ value… promote its unique proposition of rewarding a 15% Cash Back to its General Takaful customers for no claims during coverage period.


British American Tobacco (Malaysia) in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

Illegal cigarettes incidence for the same period has increased by about 16% from 50.0% in the first half of 2016 to 57.9% in May 2017. This was driven by the price gap between legal and illegal cigarettes and current macroeconomic factors that are impacting consumer spending power…in line with volume decline and the cessation of contract manufacturing for exports as of 31st December 2016.


TAS Offshore in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

Indonesia is expected to export about 30 million metric tons of bauxite alone in 2017 as a consequence of the easing on export ban of unprocessed mineral ores by the Indonesian government. This may call for the demand for vessels required for such activities.


WZ Satu in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

For civil engineering and construction segment, the Group not only accumulated an order book to last for the next two to three years but also the Group is confident that its order book will grow beyond the run-off rate. The current order book of RM1.0 billion will ensure the Group is kept busy for the coming financial year and beyond.

WZS Misi Setia Sdn Bhd’s (“MISI”) investment in the Automated Pipe Spooling fabrication plant has kicked-off well and has led to successfully securing contracts in The Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (“RAPID”) project. Since the previous reporting, MISI has secured additional works on top of existing contracts for RAPID projects. The above investment has come on stream and has been successfully translated into meaningful results as reflected and registered in the current quarter oil and gas segment result.


Saudee Group in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

…new products going to markets both locally and abroad. The Group has started collaboration with a few strategic partners to produce new halal food product to cater to the local and exports market. The product, manufactured under a patented technology, has a significant untapped market both locally and overseas.


Cycle & Carriage Bintang in a filing with Bursa Malaysia

The Mercedes-Benz trading operations recorded a loss primarily due to increased competitive intensity resulting in lower
unit sales, reduced margins and to a lesser extent higher operating expenses.

…with the model mix moving away from S-Class to the lower margin GLC-Class and E-Class. Margins suffered further due to strong competition in the premium car market.

Furniture exports keep growing

“The ban on rubberwood export would ensure sustainable supply to the furniture industry to achieve Natip’s RM16 billion target.”

“If we are allowed to employ five foreign workers for one local employee (5:1), we can expand faster but the home ministry wants to stick to the 3:1 ratio.”

“Malaysia wants to have a balanced policy by keeping the upstream players including the rubberwood sawn timber mills happy instead of helping the downstream value-added furniture industry. But Malaysia can export a quota of 100,000 cubic metres of rubberwood which would generate a total revenue of RM200 million to RM300 million. However, we hope the government would consider reducing the quota to 40,000 cubic metres.”

“Some manufacturers are thinking of Vietnam where there is sufficient labour and raw materials like acacia wood for use in our furniture. If the environment is not good, with unfriendly policies that impede growth, we might think of moving out of Malaysia.”


Mobile healthcare app to revive Palette’s earnings

The demand for mobile healthcare in Malaysia is not as good as in China at the moment, but we are targeting the locations that have higher tourism numbers such as Penang, Melaka, and Kuala Lumpur. We expect the whole mobile healthcare business segment to contribute about RM3 million to RM5 million in revenue…”

…it plans to diversify into traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to expand its earnings base by acquiring a 51% stake in TCM, food and herbal supplements trader Genopharma Sdn Bhd (GSB) for RM1.53 million.


Prestariang sees strong growth from SKIN

“It is a government-led initiative, as the current system needs to be refreshed and rebranded because some of the technologies used are old and things have changed. It is considered as zero risk for the government through the build, operate, maintain and transfer method under the public-private partnership.”

Payment to Prestariang will commence upon full commissioning of SKIN, with an average annual payment of RM294.7 million for 12 years (from the fourth to the 15th year) during the maintenance and technical operations period.


Foreign insurers are said to plan US$2 bil of Malaysia deals

A sale of a 30% stake in Great Eastern Life Assurance (Malaysia) Bhd could raise about RM5 billion (US$1.2 billion), while the disposal of a similar stake in Prudential Malaysia Assurance Bhd would fetch at least RM3 billion.

Foreign insurers have until end of June 2018 to reduce their holdings in local firms to 70% at most. The country’s central bank has been weighing tougher enforcement of a cap on foreign ownership as it seeks to boost local participation in the industry.


Bank Negara: Housing loan criteria review won’t resolve affordable housing issue

“Housing affordability has not improved significantly where average national house prices remained at 4.4 times of median income (affordable range is 3.0 and below), with lower affordability recorded for some major states and urban cities. Housing developers, working together with authorities and relevant stakeholders, should therefore intensify efforts to reduce costs and accelerate supply.”


RAM: Malaysian ports throughput growth to “remain at low single digit”

“Malaysia’s throughput remained resilient in 2016, with container throughput recording a 10-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] of 6% while that of cargo throughput came in at 5%. At the same time, Malaysia handled more than 25% of the containers passing through the Asean-5 nations, in other words Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines and accounted for 3% of world container traffic.”

“On that note, regional port expansion is under way in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, adding at least 100 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of new container-handling capacity over the next 20 years, with most of this planned along the Straits of Malacca. Although the new capacity will provide opportunities in terms of scale, there is a possibility of running into a supply glut and an ultra-competitive situation if trade growth does not keep pace.”


Don’t get ‘punch-drunk’ over Belt and Road, Munir urges Malaysia

“We must not be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Belt and Road and think that good things are going to happen automatically. We must look at which part of it will work for Malaysia, and inevitably for Asean.”

…China’s investments in Malaysia’s planned port and railway projects over the next two decades could be as much as RM400 billion or 32% of the country’s expected gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017.

Data from Malaysia Investment Development Authority (Mida) showed that China is currently the largest foreign investor in the country. In 2016, Mida approved a total of 33 China-led projects valued at RM4.8 billion, almost double 2015’s tally of 17 projects worth RM1.9 billion.


Nazir urges govt to scrutinise benefits of Chinese-led deals

“What are the lessons that we have learnt across the 60 countries that have experiences in negotiating with the public and private China. This year is the 20th anniversary of the Asian financial crisis. What caused it? It is the infrastructure debt. Isn’t there a risk? This (Obor) is going to create huge infrastructure debts in the 60 countries. Nobody will not dare not to repay China. Therefore, the risk will eventually end up in sovereign balance sheet and then we have a problem. If this happens in many countries, then we have an Asian problem. That is one caution that we need to bring to the table.”