INSIDE INSIGHTS

Hiap Tong chair adds to stake; ST Engineering continues its buybacks

FOR the five trading sessions that spanned July 2 to 8, the Straits Times Index (STI) declined 0.5 per cent, a comparatively defensive decline with the FTSE China A50 Index, Hang Seng Index and FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI averaging a 3.5 per cent decline.

Within the STI, DBS D05 , UOB U11 , Ascendas Reit A17U , Frasers Logistics & Commercial Trust BUOU and CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust C38U received the highest net institutional inflows from July 2 to 8.

Outside of the ST Index, AEM Holdings AWX , Suntec Reit T82U , UMS Holdings 558 , Nanofilm Technologies International MZH and ESR-Reit J91U received the highest net institutional inflows over the five sessions.

Overall, institutions were net buyers over the five sessions, to the amount of S$93 million, while City Developments C09 , Singapore Telecommunications Z74 and OCBC O39 reported the highest net institutional outflow.

Share buybacks

There were nine primary-listed stocks conducting share buybacks over the five sessions with a total consideration of S$3,548,457, less than then the S$5,086,207 for the preceding five sessions.

Singapore Technologies Engineering S63 again led the consideration tally, buying back 500,000 shares, at an average price of S$3.90 per share, up from the S$3.85 per share for the preceding week's buyback of 500,000 shares.

This took the cumulative number of shares purchased by ST Engineering on the current mandate to 2.8 million shares or 0.09 per cent of its issued shares excluding treasury shares.

Back on May 12, ST Engineering highlighted that its order book was at a level higher than the pre-Covid period, and this had been contributed by all its business areas, with S$4.6 billion expected to be delivered in the remaining months of 2021.

Director and substantial shareholder transactions

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

These included six company director acquisitions with six disposals filed, while substantial shareholders filed five acquisitions and two disposals.

Hiap Tong Corporation

Between July 2 and 5, Hiap Tong Corporation 5PO executive chairman and CEO Ong Teck Meng acquired 7,853,100 shares of the company at an average price of 6.6 cents per share.

With a consideration of S$520,138, this increased his total interest in the provider of hydraulic lifting and haulage services from 62.50 per cent to 65.05 per cent.

Mr Ong is responsible for managing the group's overall business strategy, and he has been the managing director of Hiap Tong Trading since establishing the business in 1978. He has more than 40 years of experience in the crane industry.

For its FY21 (ended March 31), the Catalist-listed company reported that its revenue decreased by approximately S$4.5 million or 7.5 per cent from FY20, to S$54.3 million. Mainly attributed to a decrease in the lifting and haulage revenue during the year, the group is cautiously optimistic that the Covid-19 support measures provided by the Singapore and Malaysian governments will lead to an eventual recovery of the lifting and haulage business in the long term.

With respect to port services, Mr Ong noted in the FY21 Annual Report released on July 7, that as its port services business is an essential service in Singapore, the group expects the segment to be minimally impacted by the pandemic.

Q & M Dental Group (Singapore)

On July 1, Q & M Dental Group (Singapore) QC7 alternate director Chong Kai Chuan disposed of 508,000 shares of the company at an average price of 81.2 cents per share.

The sale involving a consideration of S$412,267, and this reduced his interest in the company from 0.29 per cent to 0.23 per cent.

Dr Chong is the appointed alternate director to Q & M Dental Group (Singapore) chief operations officer Raymond Ang Ee Peng.

The group maintains the largest network of private dental outlets in Singapore with an expanding presence in China and Malaysia and serves over 400,000 patients in Singapore annually.

Envictus International Holdings

On July 6, Envictus International Holdings BQD , non-executive director and adviser of the company Kamal Y P Tan acquired 1,389,907 shares at 14.0 cents per share.

With a consideration of S$194,587, this increased his total interest in the established food and beverage group from 35.91 per cent to 36.47 per cent.

The acquisition also increased the deemed interest of his brother Jaya J B Tan, the executive chairman of the company.

Appointed as the executive director of the company upon its listing on Dec 23, 2004, Mr Kamal Y P Tan subsequently became the group CEO on Jan 20, 2009 and was re-designated as non-executive director and adviser on April 1, 2019, following his decision to go into semi-retirement.

However, on April 1, 2020, he was re-designated as acting group CEO to relieve the then group CEO who had taken leave of absence for six months to Sept 30, 2020.

He assumed the position of group CEO on Oct 1, 2020 to Nov 3, 2020 before he took the current position as non-executive director and adviser on Nov 3, 2020.

The group's business divisions currently comprise trading and frozen food, food services (Texas Chicken and San Francisco Coffee), food processing (bakery and butchery) and dairy.

On May 12, Envictus International Holdings reported that for its H1FY21 (ended March 31), the group's revenue contracted by RM33.7 million (S$10.9 million) or 14.7 per cent to RM195.6 million from H1FY20, as it bore the full brunt of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to questions from shareholders received for the March 11, AGM, the group noted that while Texas Chicken was Ebitda positive prior to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic it has performed adversely due to the Covid-19 Movement Control Order, but anticipates that if the Covid-19 issue is resolved by FY22, Texas Chicken is projected to return to profitability in FY23.

The group also noted that the high investment cost in Texas Chicken Indonesia largely comprised the two to three years rental payment made in advance, and following an evaluation, it has decided to channel its financial resources to its Texas Chicken franchise in Malaysia which showed better expansion and growth.

Marco Polo Marine

On July 1, Marco Polo Marine 5LY substantial shareholder Lee Wan Tang acquired 5,588,000 shares of the company at 2.5 cents per share.

With a consideration of S$139,700, this increased his total interest in the integrated marine logistics company, from 10.94 per cent to 11.09 per cent.

On June 14, the company unveiled plans to extend its dry dock 1 from 150 metres to 240 metres, which is expected to boost the group's capacity for ship repairs by up to 20 per cent.

Marco Polo Marine highlighted that this was a strategic move to enhance its bottom line over the longer term, as its ship-repair operations have been a growing source of recurring income, with 50 per cent to 70 per cent of business coming from repeat customers.

Plato Capital

Between July 2 and 5, Plato Capital YYN chairman, non-independent and non-executive director Lim Kian Onn acquired 49,500 shares of the company at an average price of S$1.45 per share.

With a consideration of S$71,964, the acquisition increased his total interest in the Catalist-listed hospitality and travel, education, and IT solutions business from 72.97 per cent to 73.37 per cent.

His preceding acquisition of 66,000 shares at S$1.37 per share was on May 4.

In April, Mr Lim noted that the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic had adversely impact the group, and it recorded a loss in FY20 (ended Dec 31) of S$1.4 million.

While a global vaccination roll-out offered some hope of a better year for 2021, Mr Lim said he believes that a more sustained recovery in the hospitality and education sectors is more likely in 2022.

Second Chance Properties

Between July 5 and 6, Second Chance Properties 528 founder and CEO Mohamed Salleh Marican acquired 200,000 shares of the company at an average price of 28.3 cents per share.

With a consideration of S$53,673, this increased Mr Salleh's total interest in the properties and securities investor, apparel and gold retailer, from 69.09 per cent to 69.11 per cent.

Mr Salleh has gradually increased his total interest in Second Chance Properties from 67.13 per cent at the beginning of 2020.

The four core businesses of Second Chance Properties are property investment, retailing of apparel, retailing of gold jewellery, and investing and trading in financial instruments.

On the latter, the group noted in March that it had recently made substantial investments in listed securities, which it intends to hold for the long term, focused mainly on investments that provide good yields, with the expectation that its dividend income from these investments would increase considerably.

Vicplas International

Between July 5 and 6, Vicplas International 569 non-executive director Ng Beng Tiong acquired 100,000 shares of the company for a consideration of S$22,500.

At 22.5 cents per share, this increased his direct interest in the manufacturer of sterile and non-sterile medical devices and piping systems from 0.02 per cent to 0.04 per cent.

Recently appointed to the company's board on April 28, Mr Ong is a seasoned C-suite corporate executive with a background in finance and banking and the current deputy group CEO and group COO of ARA Asset Management.

For its H1FY21 (ended 31 Jan), Vicplas International reported that its net profit after tax rose 120 per cent from H1FY20 to S$5 million.

The group CEO, Cheng Liang attributed the increase in profitability from H1FY20 to the medical devices segment continuing on a growth path, and the pipes and pipefittings segment making a recovery with the reopening of the construction industry.

  • 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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