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Upping CPO price forecasts. In this report card on the recent results season, we
are raising our CPO price (cif) forecasts by 18% for 2009 and 8% for 2010 to
US$710 per tonne for both years. The reasons for our upgrades are Argentina’s
lower soybean crops, the slower decline in demand growth from key consumers
and a slower-than-expected recovery in palm oil output. Our new local CPO price
forecasts are RM2,280 for 2009 and RM2,250 for 2010.
• CPO price to pull back in 3Q before recovering in 4Q. We remain positive
about CPO price until end-2Q as the replenishment of stocks will require time,
India’s import duties on edible oils remain at zero and there is concern over the
delay in plantings in US. We expect CPO price to pull back in 3Q before
recovering towards the end of the year.
• Upgrading earnings forecasts and target prices. In view of our higher CPO
price forecasts and recent changes in our rupiah assumptions, we are raising our
FY09-10 earnings forecasts for all the planters in our coverage by up to 30%.
This, along with higher target P/Es following our upgrade of regional
stockmarkets, bumps up our target prices by 3-53%. We are raising Hap Seng
Plantations and Sampoerna Agro to Neutral given their recent underperformance.
• Upgrading Malaysian plantation sector to Neutral. We are raising our rating for
the Malaysian plantation sector from Underweight to Neutral as its valuation
premium over regional peers has narrowed following its recent underperformance,
selected plantations stocks will benefit from an increase in their weightings in the
new FBM30 indices on 6 July 2009, we are more bullish on the Malaysian stock
market and foreign shareholding levels have fallen.
• Staying NEUTRAL on regional plantation sector. Despite our CPO price
upgrade, we remain NEUTRAL on the regional plantation sector as the share
prices of most planters in our universe have done well YTD, reflecting the more
upbeat CPO price outlook and expectations of a correction of CPO price in 3Q
due to seasonally higher production and potential cutbacks in demand from major
consuming countries if crop prospects improve. There is also no change to our
Overweight rating on the Singapore plantation sector and Neutral call on the
Indonesian plantation sector. For exposure to the regional plantation sector, we
continue to recommend large-cap liquid planters. Our top picks in the region are
Wilmar, Sime Darby, Indofood Agri and London Sumatra.