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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not as bad as feared, worst over?

Not as bad as feared. Poor though the results were, the May results season was
not as bad as feared. In fact, there were reasons to be encouraged. The revision
ratio improved from 0.43x in Feb 09 to 0.6x, meaning that the earnings downgrade
momentum is not as lopsided as before. Some 60% of companies met
expectations (43% previously) and 25% failed to deliver (40% before). 15% did
better than expected, a slight pullback from 17% during the Feb results season. In
terms of sector performance, six disappointed while only two were above
• EPS forecast surprisingly raised. More significant than the actual number of
companies that surpassed or missed expectations is the fact that 2009 and 2010
EPS have been raised, rather than cut. This is a pleasant surprise. Since the Feb
results season, 2009 EPS contraction has been reduced from 8% to around 6%
while 2010 EPS growth has been raised from 16% to 19%. Upgrades came largely
from the plantation sector due to firm CPO prices, as well as big caps such as
Axiata and Maybank, which more than offset letdowns from smaller caps.
• The worst could be over. In our Apr strategy when we upgraded Malaysia to
Overweight, we thought 2Q could provide a buying opportunity due to 1) the
expected poor results season, and 2) announcement of a sharp contraction in
1Q09 GDP. We were only partially right on the first count as 1Q09 results have
turned out to be not as bad as expected and did not present any major shocks or
earnings downgrades. This means that there is a good chance we are past the
worst as upcoming quarters may be more balanced and EPS cuts could have
bottomed out. Fundamentally, this is hugely positive for the market.
• New KLCI target of 1,220. Although our economics team was spot on about 1Q
GDP being weak – it sank 6.2% – the market took the bad news in its stride. This
is an indication of how far market confidence has improved in the past two
months. We continue to believe the gradual reinvestment of institutional funds’
spare cash will sustain the market rebound in 2H09. In view of the better-thanexpected
1Q results season, continued positive newsflow during PM Dato’ Sri
Najib Razak’s first 100 days in office and the gradual return of foreign funds to the
market, we upgrade our year-end KLCI target from 1,060 to 1,220 points after
removing the 10% discount to its 3-year moving average P/E of 15x. We maintain
our OVERWEIGHT stance on Malaysia and our preference for cyclical bombedout
sectors including construction, building materials, property and oil & ga

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