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The Star Online: Business

GUH powers ahead after lull

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

HAVING completed its expansion for its printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturing operations in Penang and Suzhou, China, GUH Holdings Bhd is ready to bounce back after slowing down for three quarters since the fourth quarter of 2012.

In the second half of that year, the group injected RM20mil to expand its production capacities of the Penang and Suzhou plants by about 50% to 807,000 sq ft from about 592,000 sq ft to position itself in the higher-value double-sided and multi-layered PCB segment.

That expansion has paved the way for the group to go further today.

Says group managing director Datuk Kenneth H'ng: "We are in the process of inking business contracts with an estimated value of RM70mil.

"The contracts are for PCBs to be used in branded air conditioners, LED backlight of automobiles, general LED lightings, power supply management system, car and home audios, DJ mixer, air purifier, speakers and subwoofer," he says.

Smartphones and touchscreen tablets are the major drivers of the PCB industry, according to Research and Markets, the world's largest research store in Ireland. Another significant driver is the demand for products with features that are more advanced, offering greater convenience, the report says.

GUH is now working on securing new orders from existing and new customers in South Korea and Japan, says H'ng.

Besides boosting capacity, the exercise also realigns production flow to increase efficiency, improve quality and yield, and upgrade the skills of the workforce.

H'ng says increasing production of double-sided and multi-layered PCBs is necessary as there is demand from makers of consumer electronic products with advanced and user friendly features such as energy-saving refrigerators and washing machine.

According to Research and Markets, the PCB growth is projected to increase at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.1% from 2012-2017, reaching an estimated US$93.9bil in 2017.

On its non-core segments, GUH has secured RM40mil worth of water projects in the country.

"These projects involve upgrading and expanding municipal water treatment plants in various states," he says.

The projects will be undertaken by Teknoserv Engineering Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the group, which is equipped with a class A licence that allows it to undertake any project regardless of its contract value in the country.

The group now seeks new water projects in the Asian region, according to H'ng.

"We are interested in securing water concession projects to supply treated water. The other projects we are keen to do in Asia is to treat waste water before it is discharged into rivers.

"The contribution from the water projects should boost our revenue for 2014. The water (business) should generate about 10% of the group's turnover this year compared to less than 5% last year," he adds.

The market value of municipal drinking water, municipal wastewater treatment, and industrial wastewater projects in the world today is about US$63bil, according to the Global Water Intelligence report.

"The driver of municipal water projects is in Asia Pacific. The increasing burden of environmental regulations, combined with the need to extract more value from the water cycle, is driving the market for municipal wastewater treatment," he says.

On its property segment, GUH plans to launch RM185mil worth of landed properties, comprising semi-detached, bungalows, and terraced houses in Taman Bukit Kepayang this year.

"We generated RM40mil in revenue from our sales in Taman Bukit Kepayang last year, compared to about RM30mil in 2012.

"The property development business is expected to contribute 15% to the group's revenue last year, compared to 12% in 2012," he says.

The present selling price of properties at Taman Bukit Kepayang ranges between RM400,000 and RM800,000, depending on types compared to about RM300,000 in 2008. This represents an increase of 25% to 30%.

The growth in amenities, government buildings and recreational facilities has contributed to a rise in property value in the area since 2008, he says.

On its undeveloped landbank in Taman Bukit Kepayang, H'ng says the group has 50ha left.

"We plan to develop more residential properties in the area for the next four to five years. We have developed over 300 acres and completed over 1,300 units of landed residential and commercial properties over the past 10 years," he says.

On its cash in hand, H'ng says the group has about RM175mil for business expansion.

"We will focus on spending to acquire land and to use the funds as working capital for large-scale water projects," he adds.

For the first nine months of last year, the group posted a pre-tax profit of RM22mil on the back of RM216mil turnover, compared to RM28mil and RM217mil in same period in 2012.

"In revenue and profit, we expect to close slightly below 2012, due to the soft PCB market. The PCB market is expected to contribute 70% of the group's turnover for 2013, compared with 80% in 2012," he says.

Palm oil falls on worries of overwhelming supply

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 03:29 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures
ended lower in tight trade on Friday as investors feared that
surging supplies of the tropical oil will overwhelm global
demand and weigh on prices. 
    Indonesia, the top producer, said its 2013 palm oil output
likely grew to 24.4 million tonnes from 23.5 million tonnes a
year ago, due to "an expansion in plantation areas and better
weather conditions". 
    Output in 2014 is seen rising further, to 28 million tonnes,
its agriculture ministry said on Friday. 
    Malaysia, the No. 2 producer, expects its production to hit
a record 19.4 million tonnes in 2013 and inch up to 19.5 million
tonnes in 2014.   
    "The main reason palm oil dropped today is because of the
Indonesian output news," said a trader with a foreign
commodities brokerage.
    The benchmark March contract on the Bursa Malaysia
Derivatives Exchange had edged down 0.3 percent to 2,640 ringgit
($802) per tonne by Friday's close. Prices traded in a range of
2,625 to 2,644 ringgit. 
    Total traded volume stood at 21,029 lots of 25 tonnes, below
the average 35,000 lots.
    Crude palm oil could face increased competition from rival
oilseeds that are slated to churn out bumper crops this year.
    Technical selling added to the drag on prices, traders said.
    "The market has also been up for a number of days before the
New Year. So there's some technical correction, but prices are
still rangebound," the Kuala Lumpur-based trader added. 
    Better-than-expected exports in December and warnings of
floods over a palm-growing region in Borneo pushed up palm
prices by 0.3 percent this week -- their third straight weekly
rise -- although demand worries capped gains. 
    Technicals showed that a bearish target at 2,620 ringgit per
tonne remains unchanged for palm oil, as it has broken below a
support at 2,639 ringgit, Reuters market analyst Wang Tao said.
    In other markets, Brent crude rose above $108 a barrel after
posting its biggest daily percentage drop in six months in the
prior session, but expectations for a rise in Libyan supply and
speculation of a build-up in U.S. stockpiles capped gains. 
    In other competing vegetable oil markets, the U.S. soyoil
contract for March rose 0.2 percent in late Asian trade.
The most active May soybean oil contract on the Dalian
Commodities Exchange fell 1.1 percent.
  Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1011 GMT
  Contract        Month    Last   Change     Low    High  Volume
  MY PALM OIL      JAN4    2606   -13.00    2605    2608      78
  MY PALM OIL      FEB4    2630    -9.00    2616    2633    2060
  MY PALM OIL      MAR4    2640    -9.00    2625    2644   11162
  CHINA PALM OLEIN MAY4    6068   -48.00    6036    6118  529516
  CHINA SOYOIL     MAY4    6822   -76.00    6812    6880  538488
  CBOT SOY OIL     MAR4   38.87    +0.07   38.79   39.10    4458
  NYMEX CRUDE      FEB4   95.31    -0.13   95.13   95.74   14294
  Palm oil prices in Malaysian ringgit per tonne
  CBOT soy oil in U.S. cents per pound
  Dalian soy oil and RBD palm olein in Chinese yuan per tonne
  Crude in U.S. dollars per barrel
 ($1=3.29 Malaysian ringgit)
- Reuters

Southeast Asia Stocks: Down, Thai shares reel

Posted: 03 Jan 2014 03:26 PM PST

BANGKOK: Most Southeast Asian stocks retreated on Friday, along with weakness in broader Asia, with Thai shares hitting a fresh 16-month closing low as domestic political protests escalated. 
    The Thai SET index ended down 0.5 percent at
1,224.62, recouping some of its earlier losses amid
short-covering in large-caps such as Advanced Info Service
 and Kasikornbank.
    It was down 5.7 percent on the week, the worst since August
2013 and Southeast Asia's worst performer.
    Concerns over a possible delay in the Feb. 2 election and
active short-selling helped spur Thursday's sell-off when the
index plunged more than 5 percent.
    Anti-government protesters have planned mass rallies to shut
down Bangkok on Jan. 13, calling for political reform before the
polls while the red-shirt United Front for Democracy against
Dictatorship would stage a mass rally to counter the planned
anti-government demonstrations.  
    Stocks in Singapore ended nine sessions of gains,
falling 1.4 percent on the day and 0.6 percent on the week,
while Malaysia lost 1 percent to a near two-week low,
with a weekly loss of 1.4 percent, its first in seven weeks.
    Vietnam inched up 0.2 percent as real-estate stocks
gained after the central bank cut home loan rates, with a weekly
loss of 0.2 percent. 
    Indonesia slid 1.6 percent to a one-week closing low
while the Philippines was down 0.6 percent, both ending
the week around 1 percent higher.
 Change on day
 Market             Current     Prev Close    Pct Move
 TR SE Asia Index*   379.67        383.33       -0.96
 Singapore          3131.47       3174.65       -1.36
 Kuala Lumpur       1834.74       1852.95       -0.98
 Bangkok            1224.62       1230.77       -0.50
 Jakarta            4257.66       4327.27       -1.61
 Manila             5947.93       5984.26       -0.61
 Ho Chi Minh         505.37        504.51       +0.17
 Change on year
 Market             Current       End 2013    Pct Move
 TR SE Asia Index*   379.67        388.37       -2.24
 Singapore          3131.47       3167.43       -1.14
 Kuala Lumpur       1834.74       1866.96       -1.73
 Bangkok            1224.62       1298.71       -5.70
 Jakarta            4257.66       4274.18       -0.39
 Manila             5947.93       5889.83       +0.99
 Ho Chi Minh         505.37        504.63       +0.15
* The Thomson Reuters South East Asia Index               is a
highly representative indicator of stocks listed in Indonesia,
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
 Stock Market Volume (shares)
 Market          Current Volume    Average Volume 30 days
 Singapore         133,084,900          190,505,640      
 Kuala Lumpur       96,226,900          110,109,077      
 Bangkok             5,265,556            5,322,809      
 Jakarta         2,186,911,500        2,946,130,917    
 Manila                 74,931               71,601    

 Ho Chi Minh            55,600               92,815- Reuters-

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