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The majority down. 62% of our 72-stock universe suffered lower
sequential quarterly net profits, with 24% surprising on the downside.
The combined 1Q09 net profit of our research universe fell by just 3.5%
QoQ. But stripping out 5 large gainers, net profits fell a larger 13.6%
QoQ. Consumers and glove manufacturers’ defied gravity, but net
profits of virtually all stocks in nine sectors fell quarter-on-quarter.
A surprising combined result, but the devil is in the details. The
combined net profit of our research universe declined just 3.5% QoQ
despite an overwhelming 62% of companies reporting a sequential
quarterly decline. But excluding five companies, combined net profit fell
13.6% QoQ, an acceleration from previous quarters. A broad-based
earnings decline is being masked by a few companies, including some
Declines in nine sectors, but consumer sector unscathed. Every
stock in nine sectors, excluding monopolies Petronas Gas and KLCCP,
experienced a drop in quarterly sequential earnings. The sectors are
gaming, oil & gas, property, REITs, construction, building materials,
semi-conductors, plantations and toll roads. Consumer stocks and
glove manufacturers showed particular resilience.
An ‘energy dividend’ took effect; monopolies fared well. Lower oil
prices benefited heavy fuel users AirAsia and Tenaga. Their gains were
only partially offset by lower earnings at the oil & gas services
companies. Net profits of Telekom, Tenaga and Petronas Gas, all
effectively monopolies, improved on a quarterly basis although only
Petronas Gas raised prices in 1Q09.
The biggest disappointment and downgrade: 1Q GDP. First quarter
2009 GDP fell 6.2% YoY, against consensus expectations of a 3-4%
drop. We have revised our GDP forecasts to -3.8% in 2009 and +4.0%
YoY in 2010 (previously -1.3% and +3.5% respectively). The
government, to be ahead in the expectations game, is projecting 2009
GDP growth of -4% to -5%. The silver lining is the government is now
under greater pressure to implement its fiscal stimulus plans quickly.
A reversal of fortune ahead for construction, building materials.
Despite uniformly lower earnings this 1Q, we believe the construction
and building materials sectors are only 2-3 quarters away from
improved revenues. Share prices of stocks in these sectors will likely
be driven by newsflow from the fiscal stimulus rather than earnings.