SGX Market Updates

LHT, Bumitama and JB Foods Directors Add to Stakes

Publish date: Mon, 29 Apr 2024, 10:57 AM
LHT, Bumitama and JB Foods directors add to stakes

Institutions were net buyers of Singapore stocks over the five trading sessions through to Apr 25, with S$277 million of net institutional inflow, as 14 primary-listed companies conducted buybacks with a total consideration of S$17.6 million.

City Developments again led the buyback consideration tally for the week, acquiring 2,439,900 shares at an average of S$5.93 per share. Over the five sessions, it ended its FY23 buyback programme and began the FY24 buyback programme. City Developments bought back 1.15 per cent of its outstanding shares (excluding treasury shares) by way of market acquisitions between Mar 8 and Apr 25. The company maintains that by acquiring its shares at value-accretive prices, it presents an attractive opportunity to deploy capital into its portfolio, signalling a commitment to strengthen its alignment with shareholders.

On the S-Reit front, Digital Core Reit Management bought back 87,000 units of Digital Core Reit. ESR-Logos Fund Management (S) also bought back 9.5 million units of ESR-Logos Reit at an average price of S$0.29 per unit.

Leading the net institutional inflow over the five sessions were UOB, OCBC, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, DBS, Seatrium, CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust, City Developments, Singtel, Jardine Matheson Holdings and Singapore Airlines.

Meanwhile, CapitaLand Ascendas Reit, Mapletree Logistics Trust, Keppel, Wilmar International, Jardine Cycle & Carriage, Sats, CapitaLand Investment, Mapletree Pan Asia Commercial Trust, Frasers Logistics & Commercial Trust, and Genting Singapore led the net institutional outflow.

The five trading sessions saw close to 60 changes to director interests and substantial shareholdings filed for 30 primary-listed stocks. Directors or CEOs filed 11 acquisitions, and one disposal, while substantial shareholders filed six acquisitions and no disposals.

LHT Holdings

Between Apr 19 and 23, LHT Holdings managing director Yap Mui Kee acquired 138,000 shares at an average price of S$1.186 per share. With a consideration of S$163,630, this took her direct interest in the homegrown pallet manufacturer from 16.92 per cent to 17.18 per cent. Yap has gradually increased her direct interest in LHT from 14.12 per cent in August 2021.

Since its establishment in 1977, LHT has grown into one of the largest manufacturers of high-quality wooden pallets, boxes and crates in Singapore, with facilities occupying 56,275 square metres in the country. Its staff strength now stands at 90 employees in Singapore and a total of 262 employees in the group as at end-February 2024.

Apart from intensifying its marketing efforts this year, the group will continually review and further streamline its current operations, production processes and production bases, Yap says. She adds that the group will also continue to enhance its competitiveness by maintaining product quality, prompt delivery, cost controls and improvements in productivity and is confident that these efforts will enable it to deliver value and stay competitive.

Bumitama Agri

Between Apr 22 and 23, Bumitama Agri’s lead independent director Lim Hung Siang increased his deemed interest by 100,000 shares at S$0.74 per share. This raised his total interest in the producer of crude palm oil (CPO) and palm kernel in Indonesia to 250,000 shares or 0.014 per cent of the company. Lim’s expertise spans the transport and engineering sectors, including leadership roles at Singapore Automotive Engineering and ComfortDelGro. He was first appointed to the Bumitama Agri board in June 2018.

Bumitama Agri ranks among Singapore’s 100 most traded stocks and also among the 20 Singapore stocks that have booked the most net institutional inflow since the end of 2023. The stock also maintains a  price-to-earnings ratio of 6.3 times and  return on equity of 19 per cent. Within the five-year period starting 2019, Bumitama Agri’s revenue has doubled, and attributable net profit has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37.4 per cent.

Earlier this month, the executive chairman and CEO of Bumitama Agri, Gunawan Lim, highlighted that the company’s focus on sustainable practices and efficiency programmes led to a record monthly yield of 2.1 tonnes per hectare in July 2023 and a total fresh palm fruit bunches (FFB) production of 5.38 million tonnes for the year. The five-year CAGR stood at 3.3 per cent, with Western Kalimantan estates showing a 4 per cent increase in FFB output and a 6 per cent rise in CPO production. The company’s palm oil mills, with a combined FFB processing capacity of 6.39 million tonnes, achieved an oil extraction rate of 22.7 per cent in FY2023. This resulted in 1.22 million tonnes of CPO, marking a 2.9 per cent increase from the previous year. Palm kernel production also rose by 0.9 per cent to 253,114 tonnes. By the end of FY2023, Bumitama managed 187,116 ha of palm plantations, with the majority being mature plants, and replanted 892 ha with high-yield, climate-resilient seedlings.

Bumitama Agri’s financial summary for FY23 (ended Dec 31) highlights a strategic focus on reducing debt and improving the company’s financial health. Despite a drop in total assets, the company successfully lowered its liabilities by 30.3 per cent, demonstrating a strong commitment to de-gearing. The allocation of 1.39 trillion rupiah for debt repayments significantly lowered the gearing ratio to 0.17 times, marking the fourth year of consistent reduction. The liabilities-to-equity ratio also improved, dropping to 0.25 times from 0.38 times the previous year. These measures have strengthened the balance sheet and positioned the company to enhance shareholder returns moving forward.

For the full FY23, Bumitama shareholders approved a total dividend distribution of S$0.068 per share. This was made up of a S$0.0192 special dividend and S$0.0363 final dividend that were proposed in the recent AGM, as well as the S$0.0125 interim dividend that was distributed in September 2023. Based on a share price of S$0.60 at the end of 2023, this represents a gross dividend yield of 11.3 per cent. Since the end of 2023, the share price of the stock has climbed to S$0.75 (as at Apr 25).

Looking forward, Bumitama Agri expects CPO prices to find support within the RM3,900 to RM4,200 per tonne range, especially in the first half of the year, adding that this stability is underpinned by restrained supplies and Indonesia’s continued implementation of its B35 biodiesel mandate, which is on course to be extended to B40.

JB Foods

On Apr 19, JB Foods’ executive director Goh Lee Beng bought 63,700 shares at S$0.49 per share. With a consideration of S$31,213, the acquisition increased her total interest in the provider of premium cocoa ingredient products from 47.58 per cent to 47.6 per cent. Goh has gradually raised her total interest in JB Foods from 47.37 per cent in mid-December.

Earlier this month, JB Foods CEO Tey How Keong noted the group’s revenue grew 16.9 per cent in its FY23 (ended Dec 31), amounting to an increase of US$86.2 million. The increase to US$595.8 million was attributed primarily to an upswing in shipment volumes coupled with a rise in the average selling price, driven by a substantial hike in cocoa bean prices from about US$2,400 per tonne in January 2023 to around US$4,800 per tonne by year-end.

However, because of the surging prices of cocoa beans, the company also saw an increase in finance costs, attributed primarily to the escalated utilisation of trade bills. Additionally, the uptick in financing interest rates and the extra financial expenses associated with the Sukuk and term loan for the ongoing construction of the Ivory Coast factory have contributed to the rise in finance costs.

Consequently, these factors led to the group’s profit after tax falling to US$1.9 million from US$16.7 million in FY23.

Hyphens Pharma International

On Apr 18, Hyphens Pharma International’s independent director Chan Kiat acquired 65,000 shares at S$0.275 per share. This increased his direct stake in the Catalist-listed stock from 0.02 per cent to 0.04 per cent. Chan was appointed to the board in November 2020, and he currently serves as a managing director and partner of Archipelago Capital Partners, a Singapore-based private equity fund manager focused on South-east Asia.

Inside Insights is a weekly column on The Business Times, read the original version.

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