STOCKS NEWS THAILAND-Bank of Ayudhya at 3-mth highs on loan growth

Mon Dec 24, 2012 1:40am EST

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Shares in Bank of Ayudhya Pcl hit a three-month peak in strong trade after the fifth-largest lender posted better-than-expected loan growth due to hire purchase lending and management is positive on the outlook in the coming year.

At the midsession break of 0530 GMT, Bank of Ayudhya shares were up 2.3 percent at 32.75 baht, climbing at one point to 33.5 baht, with about 32 million shares changing hands -- 1.75 times the average full-day volume in the last 30 sessions.

Loan growth has reached 13 percent year-to-date and was likely to hit 15 percent for 2012 against the bank's target of 11 percent, with auto hire purchase leading the growth, broker KGI Securities said, citing its meeting with the bank's management.

It rated the stock 'outperform', with target price of 42.7 baht. The bank set its loan growth target at 12 percent in 2013, looking to expand its corporate and SME lending, while maintaining its strong foothold in the retail segment, KGI said.

"However, we believe BAY's share price would continue to underperform peers until the overhang of whether or not, and how, GE would sell its remaining stake in the bank becomes clear," the broker said.

It had risen 49 percent so far in the fourth quarter versus a 42.4 percent gain of the broader banking subindex.

Nineteen out of 27 analysts tracking the company rated the stock a 'buy' or 'strong buy', six have a 'hold' and two put a 'sell', according to Thomson Reuters Starmine.

1325 (0625 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by G.Ram Mohan)

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