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INSIDE INSIGHTS

Buybacks, director deals muted amid earnings focus

FOR the five local trading sessions that spanned July 17 to 23, the Straits Times Index (STI) declined 0.4 per cent, with the Nikkei 225 Index, Hang Seng Index and S&P/ASX 200 Index averaging a 1.3 per cent gain. This has brought the STI's decline in total return for the 2020 year to July 23 to 16.9 per cent.

Over the five sessions, the iEdge S-Reit Index strengthened 3.2 per cent, bringing its decline in total return for the 2020 year to July 23 to 5.5 per cent.

Share buybacks

There were just two primary-listed stocks conducting share buybacks over the five sessions that spanned July 17 to 23 with a total consideration of S$206,298, much higher than the S$36,051 consideration for the preceding week.

As best practice, companies should refrain from buying back their shares during the two weeks immediately before their quarterly financial statements and one month immediately before the full-year financial statements.

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Director and substantial shareholder transactions

The five trading sessions through to July 23 saw more than 80 changes in director interests and substantial shareholdings, filed for close to 40 primary-listed stocks.

This included five company director acquisitions, with three disposals filed, and substantial shareholders filing a total of 14 acquisitions and five disposals.

iFAST Corporation

The Albizia Asean Tenggara Fund recently reduced its deemed interest in iFAST Corporation below the substantial shareholder threshold, from 5.10 per cent to 4.81 per cent.

In a July 22 filing, the fund noted that it had disposed of 800,000 shares for a consideration of S$1,449,040, at an average price of S$1.81 per share.

Back on Nov 6, 2019, the Albizia Asean Tenggara Fund's deemed interest crossed above the 5.00 per cent substantial shareholder threshold with 300,000 shares acquired at an average price of S$1.03 per share.

Albizia Capital is an independent boutique fund management company, based in Singapore. With its experience and network in the Asean region, its goal is to invest in companies at an attractive discount to intrinsic value.

SPH Reit

On July 21, SPH Reit chairman, non-executive and independent director Leong Horn Kee disposed of his 500,000 units of the Reit for a consideration of S$432,500, at price of 86.5 cents per unit.

He is the chairman of CapitalCorp Partners Pte Ltd, a corporate finance advisory firm. He is currently Singapore's non-resident High Commissioner to Cyprus.

Hyphens Pharma International

On July 21, Hyphens Pharma International executive director Tan Chwee Choon disposed of 500,000 shares of the Catalist-listed company for a consideration of S$300,000.

At a price of 60 cents per share, this reduced his total interest in the Asean Pharmaceutical and Consumer Healthcare Group from 13.00 per cent to 12.80 per cent.

Mr Tan has more than 35 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare industries. He joined the group in January 2004 and is currently responsible for managing the Indochina operations.

PropNex

On July 22, PropNex co-founder, executive chairman and CEO Mohamed Ismail Gafoor acquired 400,000 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$210,000.

At 52.5 cents per share, the acquisition took his total interest in Singapore's largest listed real estate agency from 64.57 per cent to 64.68 per cent.

The majority of Mr Ismail's deemed stake is via his 62 per cent ownership of P&N Holdings Pte Ltd.

With more than 20 years' experience in the real estate industry, Mr Ismail has an intimate understanding of the industry.

He is responsible for the group's strategic direction and oversees business operations of the group, including functions such as compliance, finance, human resources, legal, marketing, operations, sales and information technology.

Between July 21 and 22, PropNex executive director Kelvin Fong Keng Seong also increased his interest in PropNex. He acquired 80,100 shares of PropNex, for a consideration of S$42,028, at an average price of 52.47 cents per share.

Mr Fong oversees the group's training development curriculum, and administers the development of IT strategies and technology innovations to improve the group's competitive edge in the industry.

Prior to joining the management team, Mr Fong was one of the top team leaders, with his team of salespersons maintaining a strong track record for outstanding sales performance and excellent customer service.

Mr Fong's total interest in PropNex is now 8.06 per cent.

PropNex is expected to report its H1FY20 (ended June 30) results in mid-August. For its Q1FY20, the group reported 252.1 per cent growth in net profit after tax to S$8.2 million, up from S$2.3 million in Q1FY19.

Achieved on the back of 82.7 per cent rise in revenue over the same comparative period, this was, in part attributed to the remainder of property transactions carried forward from FY19 as well as the recovery of the private residential market from the cooling measures.

JEP Holdings

On July 16, JEP Holdings executive director Zee Hoong Huay acquired 105,000 shares of the Catalist-listed company for a consideration of S$20,790. At 19.8 cents per share, this increased his total interest in JEP Holdings from 15.73 per cent to 15.76 per cent.

Mr Zee is a veteran in the metal tooling and precision engineering industries with over 30 years of industrial experience.

UMS Holdings also increased its total interest in JEP Holdings from 39.81 per cent to 39.85 per cent between July 15 and 16. UMS Holdings acquired 194,500 shares, for a consideration of S$38,120 at 19.6 cents per share.

This also increased the total JEP Holding's interest of its executive chairman, Andy Luong, from 40.09 per cent to 40.13 per cent. This is because he holds 20.79 per cent of the issued share capital of UMS Holdings and 0.28 per cent of the issued share capital of JEP Holdings.

Mr Luong also serves as the executive chairman and CEO of UMS Holdings and has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing front-end semiconductor components.

JEP Holdings is a leading solutions provider of precision machining and engineering services, with a primary focus on the aerospace industry.

Union Steel Holdings

On July 21, Union Steel Holdings co-founder and executive director Ang Yew Chye acquired 68,500 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$27,238.

At an average price of 39.76 cents per share, this increased his direct interest in Union Steel Holdings from 8.75 per cent to 8.92 per cent.

Union Steel Holdings is a multi-business investment holding company, with three primary business drivers, namely, metals, scaffolding and engineering.

The group started operations in 1984 as YLS Steel Pte Ltd, which was involved in the trading of ferrous scrap metal and since 1991, has been distributing construction steel through Union Steel Pte Ltd.

Appointed as executive director of Union Steel Holdings on Aug 12, 2004, Mr Ang has more than 30 years of experience in the scrap metal recycling business.

He is currently responsible for the day-to-day operations and management of the relevant companies.

Hwa Hong Corporation

Between July 15 and 20, Hwa Hong Corporation (Hwa Hong) substantial shareholder David Ong Eng Hui acquired 20,200 shares of the listed company for a consideration of S$5,791 at an average price of 28.67 cents per share.

Dr Ong has gradually increased his total interest in Hwa Hong from 5.32 per cent at the end of 2018, to 6.25 per cent as at July 20.

The acquisitions also increased the deemed and hence total Hwa Hong interest of Dr Ong's father, Steven Ong Kay Eng, whose total interest stands at 16.14 per cent.

On July 14, Hwa Hong made a guidance announcement, expecting to report a loss for its H1FY20 (ended June 30), compared with a profit for the corresponding period in 2019.

This is due primarily to S$1.8 million impairments in rent receivable from a tenant in London that has gone into administration due, inter alia, to the current Covid-19 pandemic and the government-imposed lockdown in the UK.

  • The writer is the market strategist at Singapore Exchange (SGX). To read SGX's market research reports, visit sgx.com/research.

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