11 January 2012

Maybank 2012 Outlook & Issues: Tilt to Safety

2012 will be another volatile year, we expect, tracking closely headline news from abroad given unresolved macro conditions brought forth from 2011: high debts but low growth at the eurozone and US. Confidence continues to wane on a resolution to the debt crisis which is negative on sentiment and will destabilize growth.

We maintain our 2012 year-end KLCI target of 1,500 pts based on one standard deviation below mean on expectation of turbulence still at the external markets impacting sentiment and global growth. At the home front, it will be a year with potentially two major elections:
  1. an early 13th general elections (13GE) and
  2. UMNO party elections for the top posts in 4Q 2012, where the elected party president will helm the country’s premiership position
Air Pockets Ahead?

That eurozone’s debt crisis has stayed unresolved means that there is still default risk. We expect higher bouts of volatility in 1H 2012 where much of the PIIGS and US government bonds will mature. Other risks are potential deleveraging by the European banks which could lead to a credit crunch, which is recessionary in nature. The other risks are likely social uprising from tough austerity measures in the troubled economies and eventually, the fate of the euro itself.

Malaysia to out-perform, nonetheless. We expect Malaysian equities to out-perform again against a back-drop of external uncertainties and volatility. Cushioning the downside risk will be further traction on the ETP implementation, a resilient corporate earnings profile which is largely domestic focused, healthy corporate balance sheets, high domestic liquidity, stable foreign holdings, and strong participation of government linked investment funds in Malaysian equities.

Catalysts and news flow
  • Macro blueprints will be fewer in 2012 after the New Economic Model (NEM), Government Transformation Programme (GTP), Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) were unveiled in 2010, followed by the Strategic Reform Initiatives (SRI), 2nd Capital Sector Masterplan (2CSMP) and Financial Sector Blueprint (FSB) in 2011. 2012 will be a year of implementation for these blueprints, in our view.
  • Nonetheless, the Malaysian market will not be dry of action with 3 major IPOs lined up in 1H: Gas Malaysia, Felda Global Ventures Holdings (FGVH) and Integrated Healthcare. Also, the possible re-listing of Astro’s domestic operations and Malakoff, the listing of AirAsia’s Indonesian and Thai associates and AirAsia X, and the REIT-ing of KLCC Property and Kris Assets’ assets.
  • M&As will remain in flavour if market conditions stay, with the SapuraCrest-Kencana merger to complete in Mar 2012, creating a group of RM11b-RM12b in market value, either the 3rd or 4th largest in the oil & gas sector after Petronas Gas, Petronas Dagangan and Bumi Armada. We expect M&As to extend in the financial services (investment and Islamic banking) and oil & gas service providers.
  • Government’s equity divestment will also continue, including on Khazanah’s holdings. In the news presently is Khazanah’s potential sale of its stake in Proton (it now has a 42.7% holding). Also, MAHB may see new equity issuance, thus, diluting Khazanah’s 54% stake. These measures will raise the liquidity of the Malaysian bourse.

Market strategy
We will continue to exercise caution expecting the dividend stocks with largely domestic focused earnings, to market outperform. Our top picks are Public Bank, Telekom, Berjaya Sports Toto and Axis REIT. We will add on selected ETP related thematics in oil & gas (top picks: SapCrest, Kencana) and construction (Gamuda, Hock Seng Lee), and the value stocks (Sarawak Oil Palms, TSH Resources, Hartalega) for medium-term gains. Sector wise, we are overweight on construction, gaming (number forecast operators), oil & gas and REITs.

Source: Maybank Kim Eng Research Report

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