Trying to Make Sense Bursa Investments

Author: Ben Tan   |   Latest post: Fri, 4 Jun 2021, 12:59 PM


The ASP Conundrum: Supermax and Hartalega Quarterly Results Notes

Author:   |    Publish date:

While we are still waiting for additional management guidance from Supermax, specifically on utilisation rate during the quarter, today a prominent Malaysian investment analyst for whom I have great respect, wrote an interesting piece on why what is happening with Supermax is not representative of what might be happening with Hartalega, Kossan, or Riverstone. For once I didn't like the taste of that write-up, as I don't believe it's nice to kick someone when they are down, as is the case with Supermax (down 12% as of writing this post).

The ASP Conundrum

One of the key points in yesterday's QR announcement of Supermax which was broadly publicized and stressed on (see for instance here) was the following:

"As more new capacity is available in the market, the global glove prices have begun to decrease. The glove prices have since dropped by between 15% to 25%. Currently, the Spot market prices are lower than the contracted prices."

Unfortunately, as Malaysian companies are not required to disclose such information with their quarterly reports, it is hard to gauge the average selling price (ASP) for the quarter without knowing the utilisation rate. Additionally, the wording is confusing (intentionally or not) and that is why I haven't written yet any more detailed analysis on Supermax's quarterly results.

However, from the report itself we get a few extra pieces of information on the current and future profitability of the company, which are important:

- The company donated RM75 million worth of gloves to the Malaysian government, which was recognized during this quarter;

- The inventories increased from RM363 million to RM623 million, or by RM260 million quarter-on-quarter;

- Cash on hand increased from RM3.7 billion to RM3.99 billion, or by RM290 million quarter-on-quarter;

- In total, the current assets increased by approximately RM830 million, while current liabilities remained largely unchanged.

From public announcements we know that the Meru plants were closed for 3 days. At the time of the announcement, the company guided that the loss in annual production will be less than 1% (see here). However, it appears that subsequent quarantining of workers might have resulted in much lower than expected utilisation rate. The company mentioned in its report that during the quarter it has commissioned the remaining production lines in Block B of Plant #12, and it fully contributed an added capacity of 2.2 billion pieces for the quarter, or a little over 8% extra capacity.

If that is the case, and having in mind the aforementioned extracts from the quarterly report, the ASP should have actually increased slightly. In fact, if you read the report carefully, you will notice the following on page 8:

"Increase in average selling prices (ASPs) each month which started in March, 2020 for both its Manufacturing and Distribution divisions."

And on page 9:

"Continued rise in average selling prices (ASPs) and thus contributing higher earnings from Manufacturing and Distribution."

That is precisely why further guidance from the management is needed in order to be able to draw any specific conclusions. Nevertheless, as Supermax increased their selling prices the fastest and the most aggressively, it is expected that by the standard rules of an open market environment, their ASPs will fall faster. The real question is not if their ASPs will fall faster, but rather until what level they will fall as compared to the ASPs of other players.

Hartalega's Guidance (or Lack Thereof?)

In the article I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the author shares his opinion about the management of the different glove companies. I have likely not observed the industry for as long as other investors might have been observing it, so I will talk just about the very recent past. Elsewhere I have mentioned that while I have nothing against the company, if I were an investor, I wouldn't have liked a number of things in the recent quarterly report. I wouldn't have liked the fact the management had not provided any proper guidance neither on the materially significant fall in utilisation rate, nor any specifics on the reasons for that fall in utilisation rate, nor on the reasons for the seemingly decreased dividend payout. I would have certainly written an email with serious questions on these matters to the investor relations department. If the company has indeed provided such guidance and I have missed it, I apologize in advance.

First, according to Hartalega's website, the question on the company's dividend policy is answered in the following manner:

"Hartalega announced during its Annual General Meeting for financial year 2018 that Hartalega will commit to a dividend policy of minimum 60% pay-out of earnings as dividends." (Source)

However, the dividend payout for the financial year came at 39.4%, far below 60%. The closest it came to the mentioned 60% payout was in the last quarter - 54%. No guidance or explanation was provided that I could find, neither in advance, nor post factum on where this significant difference came from. I have recently discussed elsewhere that the lack of proper dividend policy for most Malaysian companies makes it all the more difficult for minority shareholders to analyze the companies and the corresponding risks. Such significant discrepancies don't make it any easier.

Second, the utilisation rate for the quarter was 64% - a massive drop from 95% in the previous quarter. That was explained with lack of container space, and with "production line closures as a preventive measure and safety precaution due to rising number of COVID-19 cases." However, I did not see any of these issues, which have evidently impacted the business of the company in a major and substantial way, mentioned anywhere during the quarter. The last, and only time I have seen the company give guidance on matters related to closures due to workers being quarantined was on December 14, 2020, when the company guided that the capacity loss for the company will be less than 0.5% of the annual output (see here). In my view, it is important that a company's management shares both positive and negative news as soon as such news occur.

Third, on specific reasons - as an existing/potential investor, even if the company has failed to immediately disclose such material disruptions in business operations, I would still like to know more details on the disruptions. For instance, I would have liked to know when and which factories or production lines have been closed, and what measures the company has taken in order to avoid that from reoccurring. I would have also liked to know what the plan is in regards with mitigating the risk of ongoing container shortage, as it is expected to persist worldwide in this quarter as well.

Overall, it is important to believe in the management of the company one has invested in. However, the relationship needs to be reciprocal and management should be transparent to minority shareholders, especially in regards with materially important issues. Minority shareholders should demand more in regards with disclosure from the management of companies, especially Malaysian companies, in my very humble view.

Important disclaimer: Any views expressed are for informational and discussion purposes only. None of this information is intended as, and must not be understood as, a source of advice. It is imperative that you always do your own research and that you make any decisions based on your personal situation and your own personal understanding.

Share this

Related Stocks

Chart Stock Name Last Change Volume 
SUPERMX 3.75 +0.12 (3.31%) 25,231,400 
HARTA 8.44 +0.15 (1.81%) 9,586,500 

  10 people like this.
arv18 "For once I didn't like the taste of that write-up, as I don't believe it's nice to kick someone when they are down, as is the case with Supermax (down 12% as of writing this post)."

A wee bit green, when it comes to Bursa it seems.

Also, consider a more apt name for your blog:

Trying to Make Sense (Of) GLOVE Stocks

06/05/2021 5:55 PM
arv18 As an invester, the price fluctutations shouldn't bother you. There wouldn't need to be navel gazing, constantly micro-analysing a "good investment" like someone with OCD.

An investor would dollar cost average over time, after a careful analysis was done.

Or did you sailang with margin?
06/05/2021 6:00 PM
observatory Ben, thanks for your analysis. Thank you for the effort in keeping everyone informed on the latest development.

I agree that Supermax statement on the ASP drop is not very clear. But since it’s part of the press statement I don’t expect detailed elaboration. However, analysts who attend the post result briefing should clarify and report accordingly.

Taking a step back, I see the market sell off as a sign where investors believe ASP has reached a turning point sooner than expected (though Harta may have 1 more quarter). Just a few months ago, the market consensus was ASP would remain elevated throughout the 2021, perhaps with only gradual decline in second half of 2021. A drop of 15% to 25% in the first quarter has badly dented analyst forecast for 2021. That’s why in today research reports on Supermax analysts slashed revenue, earning, cashflow and the resulting TP.

Supermax press release also mentions about large-scale increase in public listed Chinese rivals. Although it doesn’t name them, the high-profile ones are Intco Medical, Blue Sail Medical and Zhonghong. Actually Intco Medical also had a record revenue and profit in Q1 2021. Q1 revenue of CNY 6,735 million was 38% higher QoQ. Operating margin at 66% is on par with Malaysian glove producers.

Intco is still aggressive with its expansion plan. A subsidiary is building a Nitrile Butadiene Rubber facility with a capacity of 500,000 metric tons in Anhui province. The company announced that the first phase with 300,000 metric tons of NBR is already under installation. Intco also projects another 120 billion pieces of glove capacity come online by Q2 of 2022.

However, like Malaysian glove producers, Intco share price has weakened since the last few months (from the height of 280 to 160). Currently Intco is only valued at a TTM PE of about 5 times. So both the largest (TG) and second largest (Intco) glove makers in the world are now selling at 5 times!

In a sense that may be good news for Malaysian producers. It means Intco will face challenge in raising large amount of capital in Hong Kong. Actually, I suspect TG also faces the same challenge. TG recent announcement to halve the size of its HK listing is not so much due to consideration of not diluting Malaysian investors (if so why go ahead in the first place), but probably because TG bankers have difficulty securing enough interests from new investors.

If my guess is right, that will actually be favorable for leading Malaysian players for they can continue to expand and defend their market share using internally generated funds. That is the plan of Hartalega and Supermax as they only give out meagre dividends, preferring to plough their profits for expansion and defense against the Chinese.
06/05/2021 6:53 PM
DickyMe One should take a truck load of salt when analysing local companies QR reports.
06/05/2021 6:55 PM
Ben Tan arv18, thank you for your comments. I am sure you mean well even though it doesn't come across this way.

You are making a lot of assumptions, so to make it easier below are some clarifications:

- I have mentioned elsewhere that I've started observing Bursa not long ago, and before that it wasn't a market I was interested in. Thus, yes, you can say I am "green" when it comes to Bursa. I am interested to learn nevertheless.

- My articles have so far focused on macroeconomic issues and on gloves, because the forum is focused on Malaysian investments, and my opinion based on macroeconomic assessment leads me to be interested at this time specifically in glove stocks in Malaysia. That doesn't mean this would be the case moving forward. In fact, I hope it wouldn't be so.

- I avoid sharing publicly buy/sell transactions as this may trigger others to follow me, when they might not need to, or worse - when it's not good for them. All I am sharing is information and analysis. I do that because I hope it would lead to constructive discussions, and that has indeed happened a few times so far. Additionally I believe in giving in order to receive, so my hope is that more people will share their analyses or information they might have come across - as happens occasionally here in the forum. In a nutshell, my posts are not meant to be buy/sell calls or at all associated with trade recommendations. That is why I don't share publicly my investment decisions or strategies as I execute them. I would be happy to meet up for a coffee once the pandemic eases up and to exchange ideas in person though.

- I know that a certain number of people are reading my posts. Most of the time my posts are in response to someone asking me a question or me seeing a question asked by many different people. So please don't accept my posts as the work of obsessive hyperactivity, they are just a response to questions being asked and me trying to figure out the answers (which may sometimes be wrong, of course). My stances on the companies I write about have not changed since I started writing this blog about 6 months ago as nothing has fundamentally changed. That doesn't mean that I am not interested in observing how their stories develop.

- I have mentioned previously when you have made similar assumptions that I have never bought stock on margin, I likely never will, and I don't recommend the use of leverage for investment to anyone.
06/05/2021 6:56 PM
Ben Tan observatory, as always thank you for your detailed comment.

On Supermax, I would still like to receive more precise guidance by the management before commenting on ASP. By the look of the financial statement, the "15-25% decrease" statement might have been related to spot orders as it is practically impossible their blended ASP could have fallen by that much (based on the financials). They have been keeping approximately 10% of their production for spot orders, so the dent is 1.5% to 2.5% of revenue, potentially. But again - these are just assumptions.

On the Chinese companies, Top Glove, and listings on Hong Kong, my thoughts are very similar. I believe one of the reasons Top Glove reduced the amount of shares to be issued for HKEX because the interest was not as robust as initially expected. As you mention, contrary to what most people might think, this is likely good news, because it means Intco won't be able to raise the funds they so much need urgently at elevated price.

In any case, the Chinese players operate in a more suitable environment currently than the Malaysian players - that is evident. China has managed to control the pandemic, while Malaysian players have had significant disruptions to their operations due to outbreaks in their factories. There is no talk of windfall taxes in China (at least none that I have heard of), while one of the most prominent economists in Malaysia apparently continues to support the idea vis-a-vis Malaysian manufacturers. From what I gather, Sri Trang enjoys significant tax breaks to its operations in Thailand, too.
06/05/2021 7:06 PM
Up_down Ben Tan, Nice follow up with the glove sector. Harta dividend policy is quite consistent with the payout 60%. The latest dividend declared 17.7 cents was derived from 3rd Qtr 2021 EPS 29.3 cents x 60%. Next round of dividend expected is 19.7 cents ( 4Qtr EPS 32.75 cents x 60%)

However, the dividend payout for the financial year came at 39.4%, far below 60%. The closest it came to the mentioned 60% payout was in the last quarter - 54%. No guidance or explanation was provided that I could find, neither in advance, nor post factum on where this significant difference came from. I have recently discussed elsewhere that the lack of proper dividend policy for most Malaysian companies makes it all the more difficult for minority shareholders to analyze the companies and the corresponding risks. Such significant discrepancies don't make it any easier."
06/05/2021 8:19 PM
Ben Tan Up_down, thank you for your comment. This is very interesting. So what you are saying is that their dividend payout comes 1 quarter later every time?
06/05/2021 9:37 PM
Up_down Exactly.
Posted by Ben Tan > May 6, 2021 9:37 PM | Report Abuse

Up_down, thank you for your comment. This is very interesting. So what you are saying is that their dividend payout comes 1 quarter later every time?
06/05/2021 10:02 PM
observatory Let’s digress a bit. Yes, I also read about Prof Jomo’s remark to impose windfall tax on industries that greatly benefit from the Covid-19 crisis. No doubt it will impact glove stock share price if the government were to take his advice. May be there will be some sort of compromise later, like another round of contribution by the large glove makers to relieve the pressure.

Windfall tax will not doubt hurt Malaysia’s image. The country has been lagging behind regional peers in wooing foreign investors. It will also deter local investment. However, to put things in perspective, Malaysia will not the first countries to impose such a tax. In fact within Malaysia the glove industry will also not be the first to “suffer”. Utilities and palm oil producers have paid/ been paying windfall tax.

In fact, I consider it’s even more unfair for palm oil producers, many of them are struggling, to have to share their “windfall” whenever CPO price merely exceeds RM2,500 per MT (RM3,000 in East Malaysia). This so-called windfall levy on palm oil companies is based on selling price rather than profit. As a result, even loss-making palm oil companies have to share their “windfall”. If the tax has to be imposed, it should be on a real “windfall” situation, i.e. that is currently enjoyed by glove companies.

There are two common arguments against imposing windfall tax on glove companies. First argument is glove is not commodity like palm oil. There are many different types of gloves like surgical, cleanroom and so on. There are also branded and OEM. However, on the other hand, unlike say electronic products, there are only so many types of gloves. So, I believe this is mere technical issue that could be resolved, even if not very satisfactorily.

A better argument is a windfall tax will defer glove producers from further investment, and may even drive them to invest abroad. That’s why I think the windfall tax will have to be designed in a clever way to encourage continuous domestic investment. For example, part of the tax should be exempted if investment in Malaysia is above certain threshold. This will encourage glove companies to invest their profits but discourage it from splashing on dividends or stock buybacks.

The next question is that, if government discourage dividend when glove companies have record profits, who will want to invest in glove company stocks? The share price will sink. But actually this doesn’t really matter from the economy stand point. The glove shares are currently traded in the secondary market (Bursa). No matter how high or low the share prices are, it is not going to increase or decrease company capital which is needed for investment.

It only matters when companies want to raise new fund through IPO or placement or right issues. But with record profits it is very unlikely that leading Malaysian glove companies need to raise fresh capital in the next few years. At least not in Malaysia. The secondary listing by Supermax and TG are to take place outside Malaysia anyway.

I suppose many glove investors won’t like my view. In a nutshell what I want to say is I agree that windfall tax should never be imposed in an ideal world. However, Malaysia is far from ideal, and windfall tax already exists today and get imposed on the wrong targets. So I think a carefully calibrated windfall tax on glove companies is not necessarily a bad idea, especially if it can relieve the pressure on public finance and offer respite to palm oil companies.
06/05/2021 10:53 PM
arv18 Fair enough Ben, we all need to start somewhere. I understand, most savvy folks tend to avoid Malaysia and head straight for NYSE or NASDAQ.

I'd like to add something, not highlighted, from the press release:

The vulnerability of disruption of PPE supply chains and over dependence on imports is the primary concern of governments around the world. To address this major concern in countries where Supermax operates, we are reinvesting the earnings derived from our distribution centres into the respective countries where Supermax operates. The capital expenditure earmarked for the US is US$300 million for phase #1 and US$250 million for phase #2 making total of US$550 million. Currently, the company is working with various government agencies in the US..."

Basically, Supermax has caved into American blackmail (via US Customs and Border Protection), something Top Glove has refused to do.

As a shareholder, this mean all profits will be reinvested for the benefit of US politicians and interests. There will be little to no spare cash for buybacks or dividends. The American venture will not yeild as healthy margins, and could be loss-making, if the market saturates in the future.

Meanwhile enjoy the volitality and make some money.
07/05/2021 7:33 AM
pjseow Ben Tan, thanks again for following up with supermx and Harta QR . I too has the same questions on supermx remarks on the 15 % to 25 % drop of ASPs. I think Harta briefing slides are more transparent and provided better guidance .

Harta Q4 revenues and PAT fit well with its 50 % increase in ASP and drop in utiliation .

Q3 ASP = US 55 , shipment = 9.5 billions exchange rate = 4.08

Revenue = 55 x 9.5 x 4.08 = 2.13 billions
Profit = 2.13 x 0.47 = 1.002 billions

Q4 ASP = US 55 x 1.5 = 82.5 ,shipment = 6.7 billions , exchange rate = 4.15

Revenue = 82.5 x 6.7 x 4.15 = 2.3 billions
Profit = 2.3 x 0.485 = 1.112 billions

I agreed with you that supermx statement of ASP drop led to many confusion and misunderstandings . It led many to believe that the ASP of last qtr ( Q3 ) drop which resulted in drop in revenue and profit when actually is not . It is impossible for supermx to deliver a PAT of 1.080 ( exclude the 75 million donation if its Q3 ASP drop 15 to 25 % with Meru shutdown which has leads to lower utiliation . Based on my assumptions of two scenarios , the first is ASP increase 30 % ( assuming Nitrile ASP of 82.5 ), its utiliation is 70 % and another scenario is ASP increase by 40 % , its utilization is 64 % . Both scenarios had ASP increase . It is unfortunate that many IB s assume that supermxx Q3 's ASP drops 15 to 25 % which is IMPOSSIBLE mathematically . Supermx could have meant the drops was for spot prices which used to be 2 to 3 x of normal prices but this is only a small fraction of total sales .Supermx should be more transparent on this so that there is no confusion .

Comfort is more detailed on the shortage of container issues . In the prospectus of its last QR , it clearly stated that high inventory was due the shortage which has affected 25 % of its shipment and this will be shipped in subsequent qtr . I expect Comfort to deliver another super qtr with this additional shipment .

Harta maintained that the ASP for next qtr will be the same or better than Q4 .If we assume same ASP of US 82.5 plus the additional inventory rolled over , its next QR will be superb if there is no plant disruption .
Supermx had similar inventory increase but it did not mention container shortage problem . I would prefer to presume that the first scenario where its ASP increase only 30 % rather than 50 % like what Kossan and Harta experienced . Its utilization of 70 % is not as bad as Harta . Either was , we still expect Supermx to deliver a fairly good result next qtr even its ASP drop to Q2 level which is unlikely supermx will sell lower price than Harta .
Hope my comments help .
07/05/2021 10:19 AM
Ben Tan Up_down, observatory, arv18, pjseow, thank you for your comments.

observatory, this goes a little bit off-topic, and it might be a matter to be considered in an entirely separate article, but in a nutshell an unwarranted windfall tax is long-term economically a very negative thing. And I am not saying this because I have holdings in some of the glove companies, for instance. I would have said this for tech manufacturing, food processing, or a myriad of other industries that might experience temporary excess profits due to unforeseen events. Such type of taxes stifle and discourage investment as a whole. For a country like Malaysia, which doesn't have plenty of world-leading industries to begin with, such a blow may prove devastating, especially in the face of international competition.

Manufacturing involves a capital intensive, complicated process, in order to add value to produce. Thus, a windfall tax on a manufacturer is not the same as a windfall tax on a commodity. It is even hard to make the case for a utility, although it is a close thing to commodity in its basic form. The reason the UK, for instance, previously imposed a windfall tax on utilities was because of perceived problems during the privatization process (utilities privatized at below market rates), not because of "windfall" profits per se.

arv18, yes, the US venture of Supermax is something that deserves to be discussed in more details. From a purely economic point of view, it certainly doesn't make sense - as doesn't make sense any other manufacturing capacity of nitrile gloves set up in the US by American companies. Without the direct aid of the US government, these businesses cannot remain competitive. The big unknown there is the deal Supermax would be able to cut with the local state governments in terms of incentives, and with the federal government in terms of ongoing commitments. Unfortunately the visibility on both of these topics is so far scarce.

pjseow, yes, these are precisely my thoughts. I am still trying to find the analyst briefing slides. I believe they could shed some light on the matter. So far the short notes I have seen in the updated reports of MIDF and CIMB don't provide a lot of extra details. In any case, I truly doubt that the blended ASP of Supermax will go below the ASP of Harta. It wouldn't make sense if it did.
08/05/2021 2:17 PM
pjseow BEN Tan , thanks for your reply . TOday I came across an article from Sin Chew which quoted analysis from TA . It stated that the coming qtr ( Q4 April to June ) and subsequent qtr ( Q1 July to Sept) earnings will be better than Q3 . Reasons being ASPs had been "locked in " in earlier contractual agreements . They believed the contractual prices in Q4 will be between US 80 to 110 per 1000 while Q1 prices will be aroung US 80 .While the US 70 -80 ASPs after 15 to 25 % drop from the peak will not be the ASPs of the 2 comming 2 qtrs . It also states that Supermx did not receive any cancellation of orders as they deal direct with the buyers instead of agents . Besides , Supermx also received a lot of repeat orders from the governments . THese orders had 15 to 25 % lower ASPs.
Since Supermx are selling both Nitrile and Latexx gloves , I supposed TA meant the weighted ASPs . In this case , the Nitrile ASP from Supermx is still higher than Harta Nitrile ASP of next two qtrs .
08/05/2021 5:48 PM
Ben Tan pjseow, thank you for your comment.

I found an update note from Nomura, which was very detailed. It features similar information to what you are mentioning from TA's report. You can download it from here: http://www.supermax.com.my/html/filedownload.aspx?file=(1)%20NOMURA%20RPT%20DD%206.5.2021%20BUY%20TP%20RM8.39.PDF

Could you share a link to that Sin Chew article?
08/05/2021 9:15 PM
Stockisnotfun Oh so this is KYY i3 forum sub account. No wonder where is his hard promoting glove article goes so the article was published using this account.
08/05/2021 9:49 PM
pjseow Ben Tan, the Sin Chew article is still in klse screener but it is in Chinese under the title 手套需求料续红火 速柏玛两季盈利赹升。
09/05/2021 9:13 AM
Ben Tan pjseow, thank you for the info. I will try to find it.
09/05/2021 10:08 PM
Bizfuneng https://www.klsescreener.com/v2/news/view/826107?fbclid=IwAR2H1fNzaQHXBgl9HlTAemHYO9tnRUVbOla8B-vlNCgaAWu1MBxCspV-SME
09/05/2021 10:40 PM
newbie8080 Useful information from Nomura. Thumbs up.
10/05/2021 12:12 PM

I3 Messenger
Individual or Group chat with anyone on I3investor
MQ Trader
Earn MQ Points while trading with MQ Traders Group
MQ Affiliate
Earn side income from MQ Affiliate Program

572  344  555 

Top 10 Active Counters
 FINTEC 0.035+0.005 
 MMAG 0.185-0.005 
 VSOLAR 0.02+0.005 
 EURO 1.10-0.11 
 MTOUCHE 0.090.00 
 SERBADK 0.625-0.005 
 HHHCORP 0.190.00 
 MRDIY 3.900.00 
 FOCUS 0.04+0.005 
 EDARAN 1.17+0.265 


1. MQ Trader - Introduction to MQ Trader Affiliate Program MQ Trader Announcement!


1. What Professor Dennis Etler said about China - Koon Yew Yin Koon Yew Yin's Blog
3. Serba Dinamik rombak struktur Lembaga Pengarah, lantik IIlyas Pakeer sebagai pengerusi Oil and Gas Malaysia News
4. [MUST READ] Important message for all investors who are planning to invest in AT or existing AT shareholders Important message for all investors who are planning to invest in AT or existing AT shareholders
5. 上升股:国家能源 阻力RM10.94 南洋行家论股
6. BREAKING: The Las Vegas Strip Is Back and May Be Better Than Ever [SEE INSIDE FOR TRIPLE DIGIT GAINS] A blog to publish and share information
7. Singapore sees first day rush for Sinovac vaccine; as 16 Covid-19 cases announced on Friday (June 18) Good Articles to Share
8. Media - Attractive valuations as recovery prospects brighten AmInvest Research Reports