STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-UOB leads market decline

Fri May 4, 2012 1:45am EDT

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Singapore shares eased by midday as regional markets fell following lacklustre data from the United States, with United Overseas Bank Ltd and Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust figuring among the top traded stocks by value.

The Straits Times Index was down 0.2 percent at 2,994.57, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan shed 0.7 percent.

Shares of UOB fell as much as 1.6 percent to S$19.00 after Phillip Securities downgraded the stock to reduce from neutral, while maintaining its target price of S$17.50.

UOB shares have gained more than 3 percent since the company reported a 21 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit in late February, outperforming the 0.9 percent gain in the STI.

Phillip said UOB's share price was overvalued following the weaker-than-expected result and dividend yields were less attractive at that high level. UOB reports first-quarter earnings on May 9.

Units of Ascendas REIT, which owns industrial properties, fell as much as 4.6 percent after pricing its private placement of 150 million new units at S$1.99 each, the bottom of the S$1.99-S$2.04 range.

Ascendas REIT units were down 4.3 percent at S$2.00 on volume of 13 million units, 3.2 times the average full-day volume traded over the past 30 days.

1330 (0530 GMT)

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore; Additional reporting by Leonhard How; eveline.danubrata@thomsonreuters.com)

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12:05 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Brokers bullish on Venture Corp

Many brokers expect Venture Corp to perform better in the second half on stronger demand from customers and new products, after the electronics contract manufacturer reported a 14 percent fall in first-quarter net profit.

Nomura raised its price target on Venture to S$9.20 from S$8.50 and maintained its buy rating, while DMG & Partners Research increased its target to S$9.10 from S$9.04 and kept its buy rating.

Citigroup, Maybank Kim Eng Research and DBS Vickers kept their buy recommendations on Venture. The stock shed 1.7 percent to S$7.74, but has risen 25 percent so far this year.

Nomura expects Venture to resume sales growth in 2012 after four years of declines, driven by ramp-ups of new products in printing, industrials and test and measurement. It also said Venture has an attractive dividend yield of 7 percent.

Nomura raised its earnings per share estimates for Venture's 2012 fiscal year by 15.2 percent and by 15.4 percent for 2013.

DMG & Partners Research said the decision by optical component company Oclaro Inc to outsource its entire Shenzhen manufacturing operation to Venture's plants in Malaysia will propel the Singapore firm's networking and communications business.

For a related story, click: link.reuters.com/pan97s

1200 (0400 GMT)

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore; eveline.danubrata@thomsonreuters.com)

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10:29 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Brokers cut Hyflux target, estimates

OCBC Investment Research and Maybank Kim Eng Research lowered their price targets on Hyflux Ltd after the water treatment company reported weaker-than-expected results.

OCBC cut its price target to S$1.35 from S$1.55 and maintained its hold rating, while Kim Eng reduced its target to S$1.15 from S$1.21 and maintained its sell rating.

Hyflux shares were up 0.4 percent at S$1.44, having risen around 20 percent so far this year.

OCBC cut its earnings forecast for Hyflux's 2012 fiscal year by 14 percent and by 11 percent for 2013 on lower margin assumptions.

Due to the geographical switch in Hyflux's order book profile to Asia from Middle East and North Africa, its gross margin fell to 38 percent in its first quarter from 51 percent a year ago, OCBC said.

Kim Eng downgraded its 2012-2014 earnings estimate by 10-15 percent on reduced margin assumptions.

For a related story, click link.reuters.com/sym97s

1027 (0227 GMT)

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore; eveline.danubrata@thomsonreuters.com)

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08:52 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Index futures slip 0.5 pct

Singapore index futures retreated 0.5 percent early on Friday, indicating a weak start for the benchmark Straits Times Index.

Australian shares dropped 0.6 percent while Seoul stocks shed 0.5 percent, tracking the fall in U.S. shares overnight ahead of key jobs data.

0850 (0050 GMT)

(Reporting by Eveline Danubrata in Singapore; eveline.danubrata@thomsonreuters.com) ($1 = 1.2427 Singapore dollars)

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