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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        3  May 2011

Economic program boosts penny stocks

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The rollout of Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) projects in the last six to seven months has put the spotlight on some penny stocks that otherwise would have been largely ignored by market watchers.

Some of these companies Karambunai Corp Bhd, Petaling Tin Bhd, Tricubes Bhd and Pensonic Holdings Bhd are direct beneficiaries from the ETP and have seen their share prices more than double or quadrupled in some cases.

But while shareholders are undoubtedly happy, some analysts are wondering if these companies' share prices have run ahead of themselves and whether the interest in these companies are based on fundamentals.

Consider loss-making property developers Karambunai and Petaling Tin, which will be developing the RM9.6bil Karambunai Integrated Resort City with the help of Prism Crystal Enterprises Ltd, whose shareholder is Cambodian-based China Central Asia Group Co Ltd. Both Karambunai and Petaling Tin have a common shareholder tycoon Tan Sri Dr Chen Lip Keong.

Chen also owns Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp Ltd, the largest hotel, gaming and leisure operator in Cambodia.

Rumours of Karambunai Corp spearheading the development of an integrated resort, which was said to possibly include a casino, first emerged late September last year. That drove up its share price by more than three times, in a span of four days, from 5.5 sen on Sept 21 to 18 sen on Sept 24. It saw a massive 392.3 million shares change hands on Sept 24, making it the most actively traded stock for the day.

The company then denied rumours that it had plans to build a casino. Karambunai's share price then soared again, once Budget 2011 (announced on Oct 15) stated that there was a proposal for Karambunai to build an integrated eco-nature resort. Karambunai's share price jumped from 12 sen on Oct 14 to 25 sen on Oct 19, with a total of 633.26 million shares collectively changing hands on Oct 18 and Oct 19.

Meanwhile, Petaling Tin saw its share price rise steadily from 26 sen on Oct 27 and closed at a high of 53 sen on Nov 3 with a daily turnover of 33.6 million share. However, official word of the company's participation in the integrated resort city only came in January after the Sabah state cabinet gave its nod on the project.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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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.

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