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PETALING JAYA: The slump in business may be soon over for building material companies with construction activities projected to resume following the easing of movement restrictions.
The implementation of movement restrictions by the government in the third quarter (Q3) of 2021 had impacted the pace of construction activity and with that easing, players in the building materials space are now benefitting from the resumption of full operations.
With all, if not most companies now running at an optimal level, analysts expect building material companies to register better earnings in the quarters ahead on the back of firm prices and better demand.
UOB Kay Hian (UOBKH) Research has “buy” calls on Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd and Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd as they are “in a sweet spot to reap the positive spillover of stronger prices on favourable structural catalysts”
However, rising raw materials costs, such as coal prices, which have risen over 180% year-on-year (y-o-y), could pose a near-term challenge, affecting companies’ margins.
UOB Kay Hian (UOBKH) Research said based on its checks, apart from cement, all building materials and commodities under its coverage had hit all-time highs this year as demand outstripped supply due to pandemic-led disruptions. “For cement, while the price remained weak in the first half of 2022, bulk cement average selling prices (ASPs) showed a gradual recovery from as low as RM195 per tonne earlier in the year to RM220-RM225 per tonne as of November 2021,” the research firm said in its latest Malaysia Strategy report.
The research firm believes that the price of cement will hit RM240-RM260 per tonne in 2022 following industry consolidation and stronger demand from the rejuvenation of construction activities.
Press Metal Samuljadi plant
“This indicates that most cement companies will turn around after reporting a few years of losses.
“For steel, while we foresee lower earnings as ASPs fall, we believe steel companies will still register healthy profits (higher than pre-pandemic levels) as ASPs will likely remain firm, albeit not at the current highs, supported by the conducive macroeconomic outlook,” it added.
The research firm has “buy” calls on Malaysia Smelting Corp Bhd and Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd as they are “in a sweet spot to reap the positive spillover of stronger prices on favourable structural catalysts”.