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ASEAN STOCK WATCH Asean Affairs   1 June 2012

ASEAN markets are ready for a run forward today.

 By Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.

Overnight in the USA

Equities reversed losses as a Greek opinion poll before June elections showed New Democracy, the largest pro-bailout party, leading Syriza, which calls for the cancellation of bailout terms. MSCI Inc. and S&P announced contingency plans for calculating their equity indexes should Greece leave the euro currency union. The International Monetary Fund said it is not preparing financial aid for Spain and the country denied any talks about a bailout.

Stocks rebounded from an earlier slump triggered by data showing the U.S. economy grew more slowly in the first quarter than previously estimated while business activity expanded in May at the slowest pace in more than two years. The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose. A Labor Department report tomorrow may show private payrolls rose by 164,000 in May, and unemployment held at 8.1 percent, economists projected. Including government workers, employment probably rose by 150,000 following a 115,000 April increase.


A strong account surplus and the complimentary effect by the better performing members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the rest of the bloc could cushion the impact of the Eurozone economic crisis, said an economist.

Malaysia’s Maybank regional head of research and economics, PK Basu told Xinhua in an interview recently that ASEAN has been progressing well with the old ASEAN six, composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, recording large account surpluses that complimented the financially weaker countries in the region to overcome extreme volatility in the global economic environment.

“Within ASEAN, there were a few countries, such as the Philippines which traditionally has current account deficits but even the Philippines now has structural account surpluses so the old ASEAN six economies now have current account surpluses which have cushioned them from the impact of the global financial crisis, ” Basu said.

“There are some new ASEAN economies like Vietnam which has current account deficits still but there is a nice complimentarity between old ASEAN and new ASEAN. The old ASEAN countries have excess capital that increasingly flow to ASEAN economies. That is creating a symbiotic relationship that is driving ASEAN forward. There have been a few countries like Vietnam, Cambodia that have suffered some imbalances during this global financial crisis and some macroeconomic challenges but they have largely overcome them,” he added.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam.

Vietnam’s inflation rate moderated to 14 percent in March from a peak of 23 percent last August while its trade deficit narrowed significantly from last year, signaling an improvement in the more vulnerable economies that are now on a more stable path with the stronger economies in the bloc.

The International Monetary Fund had earlier cut its growth projection for ASEAN to between 5.2 and 5.6 percent next year, down from the previous forecast of 5.6 to 5.8 percent before it bounces back at 6.5 percent in 2013.

ASEAN’s partners — China, Japan and South Korea — have contributed to ASEAN’s growth, particularly in helping the bloc achieve its target by 2015 to become an integrated, single economy.

“China has become ASEAN’s largest single trading partner as it has become the largest trading partner for most countries in the world. There is good two-way trade between ASEAN and China,” Basu said. “Chinese investments have been heavily focused on countries like Indonesia, there are some interests in Malaysia as well and some growing interest in Thailand. Singapore has a long- established relationship with China as lots of Singapore corporates have invested heavily in China in the past. China is continuing to show interest in not only the old ASEAN but also some of the new ASEAN economies,” he said.

Although the amount of foreign direct investment was relatively small — less than 1 percent of the GDP on either side, it is growing given the substantial projects introduced from either side recently.

Statistics showed China’s investment in ASEAN countries totalled 3.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2010, a 13-fold increase from 2003.

ASEAN’s investment in China reached 6.3 billion U.S. dollars, up 35.2 percent over the same period last year.

On average, investment ratio in 2010 of three emerging ASEAN economies — Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia — are about 10 percent of GDP, below the 90′s pre-crisis levels, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Basu predicted Malaysia’s economy growth at 4.5-5.5 percent in the second half of the year after the central bank put its first quarter’s GDP at 4.7 percent.

He said interest rate in Malaysia is likely to maintain at 3 percent, where it had been kept by the bank for the 11th time since May last year, providing a leeway for the bank to cut the rate should the Eurozone breaks up or its crisis deteriorates.

Market Vectors Vietnam ETF. (NYSEARCA:VNM)

VNM only holds 32 companies and is highly focused on three sectors which make up almost 65% of the fund’s total assets; financials, energy, and industrial materials. This is achieved by tracking the Market Vectors Vietnam Index, which provides exposure to publicly traded companies that, predominantly, are domiciled and primarily listed in Vietnam and which generate at least 50% of their revenues from Vietnam.

The Index comprises:
A diversified group of many of the largest and most liquid companies in the investable universe
Companies eligible for inclusion in Index:

Predominantly*, companies domiciled and primarily listed in Vietnam, or generating at least 50% of revenues from Vietnam

To a lesser extent*, non-Vietnamese companies that generate, or are expected to generate, at least 50% of revenues from Vietnam or that demonstrate a significant and/or dominant position in the Vietnamese market and are expected to grow

Market cap exceeding $150 million

Three-month average daily turnover greater than $1 million

Trade on recognized domestic or international stock exchanges

Trai Thien USA Inc (PINK:TRTH)

Trai Thien USA is a fast-growing Vietnam-based dry bulk shipping company operating a 21,990 DWT fleet comprised of six geared bulk vessels specializing in providing ocean transportation services for raw material input items such as coal, ore, grain, lumber, cement, steel and fertilizer throughout the Southeast Asia region.

After China, the primary sources of future bulk demand are India, Brazil and Vietnam. The region contains three of the four global BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India, China), seen by economists as the future growth leaders in the world economy.

The Asia Pacific region accounts for 60% of the world’s population and almost 70% of world sea-borne trade in bulk commodities.

In order to meet anticipated continued growth in demand from an expanding base of overseas and domestic Vietnamese customers, as well as to expand the geographic regions that it can service to include potentially more profitable routes in East and South Asia.

The Company’s Vietnam-based operations are located in Ho Chi Minh City, which together with the surrounding areas, accounts for more than seventy percent of Vietnam’s total annual cargo traffic.

Pink Sheets TRTH

Current Price $0.14

Current PE 4.19

Revenue Growth 148%

Target Price 2013 $3.40

HCM Rating Strong Buy

Financial Highlights

The emerging economies of the Asia Pacific (ASEAN) region will continue their growth pattern despite the continuing financial crisis in Europe according to the Asian Development Bank.

Free Trade Agreements including ASEAN, AFTA, CAFTA, ASEAN +3 will more than triple regional trade.

· Year-end 2011 revenues increased over 20.9% as compared to the previous fiscal year, from $12,232,991 in 2010 to $14,794,939 in 2011.

· Income from Operations increased over 148% from 2010 to 2011, from $1,051,543 to $2,615,000

· Net Income increased from a loss of $539,452 in fiscal 2010 to a positive $1,377,391 in 2011.

· The Company is operating a 21,990 DWT fleet comprised of six geared bulk vessels specialized in providing ocean transportation services for raw material input items such as coal, ore, grain, lumber, cement, steel and fertilizer throughout the Southeast Asia region.

The HCM Trade Forecast is predicting that world trade will grow by 73% in the next 15 years, with merchandise trade volumes in 2025 hitting $43.6trillion compared to today’s $27.2trillion.

Investing in Tra Thien

ASEAN +3 is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the People’s Republic of China (including Hong Kong), Japan, and South Korea. Home to 600 million people, ASEAN has a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$1.8 trillion with total trade valued at $2 trillion among the countries.

ASEAN is set to explode as an economic force in 2015 as financial, trade and investment rules become integrated and seamless. ASEAN last year secured $78.5 billion in investments. Regional trade also increased by 32.9 percent to more than $2 trillion and Trai Thien is well positioned to capitalize on the growing Inter-ASEAN +3 trade.

ASEAN is beefing up various frameworks for cooperation and development within the region and with its trading partners, in preparation for regional economic integration by 2015.

The changing trade barriers have seen fast paced growth in agricultural and mineral exports around the region, these changes have already reflected themselves on the books at Trai Thien USA as revenue has almost tripled in the last year.

The Trai Thien fleet has the distinct advantage of having been designed to suit the region, while huge Dry Bulk Carriers service many areas. Most of the trade in agriculture and minerals is done from ports in ASEAN that cannot accommodate the large ships, nor can the large ships be loaded and unloaded at these smaller ports due to the lack of stevedoring infrastructure.

Trai Thien smaller fleet can service these ports directly, removing the additional costs of trans-shipping and adding savings in terms of cash and time to purchasers.

Based on corporate and market growth and given a conservative set of ratios in our financial model, we see Trai Thien trading over $3.40 in 2013.

The Fleet

• Fleet of highly versatile geared bulkers with average capacity of 3,700 DWT and average age of 3 years.

• Optimal payload capacity for growing small and medium production sector that dominates economic activity throughout the region.

• Focus on dry bulk commodities such as forestry products, grains, cement, steel, ore and coal.

• Vessels equipped with deck-side cranes which provide flexibility in cargo handling and accessing and servicing underdeveloped, lower cost secondary ports throughout the region.

• Draft efficiency and deck-side gears reduce dependency on major ports and reduce risk exposure to growing operational inefficiencies affecting them.

• In order to meet anticipated continued growth in demand from an expanding base of overseas and domestic Vietnamese customers, as well as to expand the geographic regions that it can service to include potentially more profitable routes in East and South Asia, Trai Thien has made deposits to acquire six larger 7600 DWT capacity new-buildings, which depending on the company’s ability to meet additional capital resource requirements, are expected to be delivered in 2011 and 2012.

• Depending on the ability to raise approximately $50m in external funding required to cover outstanding balances due on vessels in construction, for which there is no assurance, the Company will focus on what it believes to be more profitable 7000-8000 DWT vessels in order to meet growing demand for larger payload capacities while still maintaining an ability to broadly access the secondary coastal and river ports that characterize the trade.

• Located in Ho Chi Minh City, the economic heart of Vietnam’s trade and transportation activity.

• ASEAN satellite market benefits from geographic proximity to major world economic activity drivers China and India.

Trai Thien and China

Our research indicates that rising trade in ASEAN +3 will propel the ASEAN trade bloc of Southeast Asia nations to become China’s largest trading partner by 2015.

The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade said the 2010 ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement removed trade barriers, and that the value of imports and exports between China and ASEAN states could surpass $500 billion within three years.

As China moves away from its dependency on export markets and encourages more trade with countries with which it has signed FTAs, the value of goods moving between the ASEAN bloc and China is forecast to increase at a faster rate than imports and exports between China and its more established trade partners.

“Thanks to zero tariffs, preferential trade policies and geographic advantages, both the increasing speed and scale of that trade will be in the forefront globally and ASEAN will become China’s No. 1 trading partner by 2015,” said Zhang Wei, vice chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

First quarter 2012 trade between China and the ASEAN nations — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — increased 9.2 percent year-over-year. That is compared with a 2.6 percent gain in trade between China and the U.S. and a 1.6 percent decline in trade between China and the EU.

That growth followed the 24 percent increase in trade between ASEAN and China last year when the ASEAN bloc surpassed Japan to become China’s third-largest trade partner after the EU and the U.S.

Trai Thien is located at the geographic centre of ASEAN +3 and is perfectly placed to capture increasing market share in a rapidly growing market.


VinaCapital is the leading investment management and real estate development firm focused on Vietnam, with a diversified portfolio of almost USD2 billion in assets under management. VinaCapital was founded in 2003 and boasts a team of managing directors who bring extensive international finance and investment experience to the firm.

VinaCapital believes the energy, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Vietnam make it the world’s top emerging market investment opportunity. Our mission is to produce superior returns for investors by using our experience and knowledge to identify the key trends and opportunities that emerge as Vietnam continues to develop its economy. To achieve this, VinaCapital has industry-leading asset class teams covering capital markets, private equity, fixed income, venture capital, real estate and infrastructure.

VinaCapital’s core business is VinaCapital Investment Management Ltd, which manages three closed-end funds trading on the AIM Market of the London Stock Exchange. These funds, at a combined net asset value (NAV) of USD1.6 billion as of December 2011, make VinaCapital the largest asset manager focused on Vietnam and its neighbouring countries. The funds are:

VinaCapital Vietnam Opportunity Fund Limited (VOF), a diversified fund that invests in all asset classes, including listed and private equities, real estate, and bonds.
VinaLand Limited (VNL), a real estate fund that makes direct investments in residential, retail, hospitality and office sectors.
Vietnam Infrastructure Limited (VNI), a fund that invests in infrastructure sectors including transport and logistics, power, telecommunications, and the environment.

VinaCapital Investment Management Ltd also co-manages the USD32 million DFJ VinaCapital L.P. technology venture capital fund with Draper Fisher Jurvetson.

VinaCapital also holds stakes in VinaProjects, a specialist real estate services company encompassing project management, construction management and urban planning; and in VinaSecurities JSC, a full-service securities company offering a range of brokerage and investment banking products and corporate financial services.

VinaCapital has offices in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Danang, Nha Trang, Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Singapore.


The fundamentals that have driven Singapore's economic growth to date will serve the nation well as it navigates the transition to achieving sustainable economic growth, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Wednesday.

These fundamentals are Singapore's talent, connectivity and business environment, he told a gala dinner held to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC).

'Singapore must reposition its economy towards activities that make better use of our limited resources and raise productivity at all levels to generate sustainable economic growth over the longer term,' he said at the dinner held at Marina Bay Sands.

'Making these transitions will not be easy. Nevertheless, I am optimistic that we will succeed by focusing on the fundamentals that have underpinned our economic growth through the years.'


Malaysia has moved up two spots from 16th to 14th most competitive economy in the world in the Institute for Management Development’s (IMD) World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) 2012 survey.

The survey showed that Malaysia’s competitiveness ranking was now ahead of countries such as Australia (15th), Britain (18th), South Korea (22nd), China (23rd), Japan (27th) and France (29th).

The IMD survey assessed countries according to four main competitiveness factors: economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure. The WCY rankings measure how well countries manage their economic and human resources to increase their prosperity and 59 countries were surveyed this year.

“Malaysia registered significant improvements in the business efficiency category (sixth position from last year’s 14th) and in the government efficiency category (13th from 17th). Ranking improvements were recorded in the sub-categories of business productivity and efficiency, finance, business legislation, and societal framework,” the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) said in a media statement.

Maxis Bhd

Maxis Bhd’s earnings rose 6.1% to RM572mil in the first quarter ended March 31, 2012 from RM539mil a year ago, underpinned by its non-voice revenue from its mobile services.

It said on Thursday its revenue increased 4.5% to RM2.229bil from RM2.133bil a year ago, with mobile services accounting for RM2.13bil in Q1, 2012.

Earnings per share were 7.6 sen compared with 7.2 sen. It declared an interim single-tier tax exempt dividend of 8.0 sen per share.

Maxis said the RM96 million increase in revenue on-year was contributed by all business segments except for international gateway services, with mobile services contributing about 96% of the increase.

“Consequently, the group’s EBITDA grew 4% or RM43mil with EBITDA margin at 50.8%,” it said.

The telco said profit for the period increased 6% or RM33mil mainly due to the higher EBITDA, lower tax expenses and lower write-offs in property, plant and equipment. These factors, it said, had more than compensated for a higher net finance costs, depreciation and amortisation.

Commenting on the mobile services, it said they recorded a 5% or RM92mil increase in revenue from a year ago.

“This was primarily driven by non-voice revenue through higher sales of devices, mobile internet and SMS usage coupled with higher wireless broadband revenue as a result of a higher subscription,” it said.

Maxis said total non-voice revenue as a percentage of total mobile revenue was 45.5%; up 3.4% on-year. The increase was driven by non-voice revenue was higher than the reduction in voice revenue due to lower usage and subscription.

It added the mobile segment EBITDA rose 4% or RM48mil with EBITDA margin at 52.9%.

Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas)

Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s (Petronas) earnings rose 61.7% to RM20.7bil in the first quarter ended March 31, 2012 from RM12.8bil a year ago on higher oil prices and stronger ringgit.

It said on Thursday that revenue increased 14.6% to RM75.15bil from RM65.64bil a year ago. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was RM35.08bil compared with RM27.25bil.

“First quarter 2012 revenue benefited from strong crude oil prices and other energy products, particularly liquefied natural gas,” it said.

Petronas added the strong oil price was supported by an improving US economy as well as concerns over disruption of oil supply due to the worsening geopolitical crises in major crude oil producing countries.

“Profit for the quarter increased by RM8.0bil year-on-year in line with higher revenue as well as improved margin,” it said.

Its total assets increased to RM481.9bil as at March 31 from RM475.1bil at Dec 31, 2011

On dividends, Petronas said in the quarter ended March 31, 2012, the shareholders approved a tax exempt final dividend of RM28bil for FY ended Dec 31, 2011, payable in eight instalments between April and November 2012.

Public Mutual Bhd

Public Mutual Bhd declared distributions of more than RM493mil for seven funds for the financial year ended May 31, 2012.

It said on Thursday for the Public Ittikal Fund, the gross distribution per unit was 5.25 sen; Public Islamic Equity Fund (2.0 sen), Public Balanced Fund (4.25 sen) and Public Select Bond Fund (4.5 sen).

It declared gross distribution of 1.5 sen per unit for the Public Islamic Select Treasures Fund, Public Dividend Select Fund and PB Asean Dividend Fund.

Public Mutual said the Public Ittikal Fund, launched in 1997, seeks to achieve steady capital growth over the medium- to long-term period by investing in Syariah-compliant investments.

It said with the exception of PB Asean Dividend Fund, all the other funds are open for the Employees Provident Fund Members Investments Scheme.


Thailand’s exports in April off 3.5%

Thai exports in April down 3.5% from the same month of last year due to a decrease in rice exports, said Methi Supapong, director of the Monetary Policy Division of the Bank of Thailand, Thursday.

The director attributed the decrease to less export amount of Thai rice resulted from price hike and declining rubber price.

According to the director, agricultural production contracted by 0.3% Y-Y, while prices reduced by 13.2%. As a result, farmers’ incomes fell by 13.5% from the same period of last year.

Manufacturing industry, however, expanded by 0.5% when compared to the same period of last year and became the first month to show growth after five consecutive months of contraction due to last year’s flood crisis, said Methi.

Baht Falls

The baht had its largest monthly slide since September as global funds cut holdings of the country’s stocks amid concern Europe’s debt crisis will hurt global growth. Government bonds rose.

The baht touched the lowest level since Aug 2010 as exchange data showed international investors sold US$475 million more of Thai equities than they bought this month. The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index (MXAP) of stocks saw the biggest monthly drop in more than three years after Spanish credit-default swaps surged to a record on Wednesday. The European Union accounted for 8.6 per cent of Thailand’s exports in the first four months of 2012, official data show.

Thailand recorded a current-account deficit for the second straight month in April as weakening global demand curbed exports. The deficit was $1.52 billion, matching the amount reported for March, the Bank of Thailand said. Exports dropped 3.5 per cent in April after a decline of 6.8 per cent the previous month, the central bank report also showed.


Thai Chamber of Commerce announced that consumer confidence had risen from the March figure. The proclamation has reinforced the general feeling that Bangkok continues to grow as a major player in the Asian economic scene.

The Stock Exchange of Thailand main index went up 2.87 points or 0.25% to close at 1,141.50 points at the end of trading session on Thursday afternoon. The trade value was 46.29 billion baht, with 6.11 billion shares traded.

The SET50 index ended at 791.54 points, up 1.92 points or 0.24%, with a total trade value of 29.65 billion baht.

The SET100 index rose 5.37 points or 0.31% to stand at 1,721.76 points, with a total turnover of 31.84 billion baht.

The SETHD index went up 13.11 points or 1.24% to stand at 1,072.44 points, with total trade value of 9.59 billion baht.

The MAI index gained 1.05 points or 0.37% to close at 288.38 points, with total transaction value of 797.92 million baht.

Yesterday in Asia

Tokyo fell 1.05 percent, or 90.46 points, to 8,542.73, and Sydney shed 0.44 percent, or 17.9 points, to 4,076.3. Seoul was flat, losing 1.39 points to close at 1,843.47.

Hong Kong shed 0.32 percent, or 60.70 points, lower at 18,629.52, while Shanghai fell 0.52 percent, or 12.44 points, to 2,372.23.

– Singapore closed down 0.41 percent, or 11.41 points, at 2,772.54.

Commodities firm Olam International was down 0.60 percent at Sg$1.67 while real estate developer Capitaland gained 1.60 percent to Sg$2.54.

– Taipei rose 0.55 percent, or 39.70 points, to 7,301.50.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. surged 4.16 percent to Tw$85.1 while leading smartphone maker HTC ended 1.42 percent higher at Tw$430.0.

– Manila closed 1.45 percent, or 72.91 points, higher at 5,091.23.

The market was lifted by the announcement that the economy grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of the year, better than expected.

DMCI Holdings gained 1.76 percent to 57.95 pesos while SM Investments rose 2.4 percent to 704 pesos.

– Wellington rose 0.20 percent, or 6.94 points, to 3,488.29.

Fletcher Building gained 0.48 percent to NZ$6.29, Telecom was up 1.18 percent to NZ$2.58 and Contact Energy gained 1.46 percent to NZ$4.88.

– Kuala Lumpur gained 0.35 percent, or 5.50 points, to 1,580.67.

Financial firm CIMB Group Holdings gained 0.13 percent to 7.50 ringgit, while telecoms company Axiata Group added 0.75 percent to 5.37 ringgit. Petronas Gas lost 1.94 percent to 17.20 ringgit.

– Jakarta tumbled 2.17 percent, or 85.09 points, to 3,832.82.

– Bangkok added 0.25 percent, or 2.87 points, to 1,141.50.

Banpu fell 3.43 percent to 450 baht, while PTT Plc added 1.95 percent to 313 baht.

– Mumbai slid 0.57 percent, or 93.62 points, to 16,218.53.

Private bank ICICI Bank slid 4.0 percent to 784.3.

Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.  

Linda Johnson, Business Development Director - Private Client Group, Heffernan Capital Management
3 Raffles Place #07-01
Bharat Building Singapore 048617
Tel: +65 6329 6408 Fax: +65 6329 9699
Email :
Suite 53 Athenee Tower
63 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
New York 347 5th Avenue, Suite 1402-508 NY, NY 10016


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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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