KUALA LUMPUR (July 15): Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd (HLIB) raised its earnings forecast and share target prices (TPs) for rubber glove manufacturers Top Glove Corp Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd on expectation of higher average selling prices (ASPs) for gloves due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a note today, HLIB analyst Farah Diyana Kamaludin said the research firm, however, maintained its "overweight" call on the rubber glove sector with "buy" calls for Top Glove, Hartalega and Kossan shares.

"Maintain 'overweight' on rubber gloves driven by a pandemic-fuelled demand. Market leader Top Glove (TP: RM31.31) is our top pick for the sector, being the largest glove manufacturer globally with vast clientele, readily supporting the increasing demand," she said.

"[For Top Glove,] we raise FY20-22 earnings by 24%/33%/8%. Thus, our TP increases to RM31.31 (from RM23.91) based on 33x PE (+1SD) tagged to mid-FY21 EPS.

"We checked in with Hartalega, and was pleased to hear that ASPs has been increasing. As such we take this opportunity to impute higher ASP assumption (circa +6% year-on-year) due to better-than-expected demand. Following that, our FY21-22 earnings increase by 14%/18%, our TP has increased to RM20.12 (from RM17.63) based on 47x PE (+2SD) tagged to FY21 EPS.

"[For Kossan,] with the expectation of further price adjustments in 2H20 and new capacity coming in 2021, we increase our FY20-22 earnings by 28%/41%/17%. Post adjustments, our TP increases to RM16.37 (from RM11.69) based on 31x PE (+2SD) tagged to FY21 EPS," she said.

At Bursa Malaysia today, Hartalega's share price fell RM1.22 or 7.18% to RM15.78 at 4:09pm, Top Glove dropped RM1.16 or 5.01% to RM22 while Kossan was 78 sen or 5.78% lower at RM12.72.

Hartalega and Top Glove are KLCI constituents. At 4:14pm, the KLCI fell 7.72 points or 0.48% to 1,591.03.