DAILY MORNING NOTE | 4 April 2024

Trade of The Day

Home Depot Inc (NYSE: HD)

(Current Price: US$363.00) – TECHNICAL SELL
Sell price: US$363.00 Stop loss: US$376.00 (-3.58%)
Take profit 1: US$345.00 (+4.96%) Take profit 2: US$335.00 (+7.71%)

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Trades Initiated in the past week

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Singapore shares declined 0.8 per cent on Wednesday (Apr 3). The top gainer was Seatrium, which ended up 1.2 per cent or S$0.001 to S$0.085. Meanwhile the top loser was DFI Retail Group, which retreated 5.4 per cent or US$0.12 to US$2.10. The trio of local banks ended lower. DBS fell 0.3 per cent or S$0.11 to S$36.09, UOB decreased 0.4 per cent or S$0.13 to S$29.53 and OCBC retreated 0.3 per cent or S$0.04 to S$13.60.

Wall Street stocks finished a choppy session little changed on Wednesday (Apr 3) following mixed economic data. Data from payroll firm ADP showed stronger than expected hiring in March, while a survey of the services sector showed slowing growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.1 per cent at 39,127.14. The broad-based S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent at 5,211.49, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent to 16,277.46.

Top gainers & losers

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Events Of The Week

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SG

Singtel on Wednesday (Apr 3) again denied media reports over a potential deal regarding Australian subsidiary Optus. This came after Australian media reported its talks with Canadian private equity firm Brookfield to sell its 20 per cent stake in Optus failed to result in a deal. In a bourse filing, Singtel said there was “no impending deal to divest Optus”, and added that the Australian unit remains a “strategic and integral part of the Singtel group”.

The group of controlling shareholders of Best World International are offering S$2.50 per share to the remaining shareholders to buy them out via a selective capital reduction offer. The offer, which was flagged more than a week ago, will be put in front of shareholders holding 34.88% of the shares. A nod from a minimum of 75% out of this group is required for the offer to go ahead and for the company to be privatised. The offer price of S$2.50 is a 12.6% premium over the April 3 closing price of S$2.22, and a bigger premium of more than 40% over the closing price on March 21, just before Best World first flagged its intention to make this selective capital reduction.

The manager of Cromwell European REIT (CEREIT) has announced the completion of its divestment of an office asset in Poland for EUR15.86 million (S$23.1 million) on March 28. As part of the divestment, CEREIT entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Solida Capital Europe for the sale of Grojecka 5 (G5) asset in Warsaw, one of the REIT’s six office assets in Poland. The asset was independently valued by CBRE and by Perpetual Asia, in its capacity as trustee of CEREIT, at EUR14.75 million as at Dec 31, 2023. The net proceeds from the divestment will be deployed to repay the revolving credit facility and for other working capital purposes. CEO of the manager, Simon Garing, says the divestment of G5 is consistent with the REIT’s previously announced strategy to reduce exposure to non-core markets and B/C grade office assets, effectively reducing the portfolio’s exposure to Poland to 7.4% (down from 8.1%). He notes that the REIT’s focus will be to manage its gearing in the 35% to 40% range over the medium term and improve upon its Fitch Investment Grade credit rating of “BBB- with stable outlook” to provide CEREIT with competitive financing and ample liquidity to undertake its active asset enhancement program in core Western Europe locations.

Seatrium has obtained a series of major contracts with an aggregate value of S$350 million. The contracts, to be completed by end-2025, were awarded to the group’s wholly owned subsidiary, Seatrium Repairs and Upgrades. They include repair, upgrade and conversion works scheduled mainly to start in the second quarter of 2024, said the offshore and marine engineering group on Wednesday (Apr 3). Seatrium will convert three liquified natural gas (LNG) carriers belonging to Turkish energy company Karpowership, into floating storage and regasification units. The agreement with Karpowership also comes with an option for a fourth project. The conversion work involves installing a regasification skid, as well as other supporting systems such as cargo, utility, spread-mooring, offloading, electrical and automation systems. Seatrium will also be performing maintenance and upgrading works on a floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) system owned by Australian petroleum company Woodside Energy, and operated by floating production solutions provider Modec Management Services. The FPSO system named Pyrenees Venture is expected to be redeployed into production off the coast of Western Australia. In another project, Seatrium will perform vessel remediation work for Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production. Throughout 2024, the group will also carry out cruise ship refurbishments for 10 cruise vessels from its long-term partner Carnival Corporation, and Royal Caribbean Group. Additionally, Seatrium will undertake repairs of Hakuryu 5, a semi-submersible drilling rig from Japan Drilling; a series of dry docking for LNG carriers under its contract with South Korean Hyundai LNG Shipping; and a series of naval work this year.

Offshore oil and gas contractor Dyna-Mac achieved a record S$896 million net order book with new contract wins. The project deliveries stretch to 2026, said the group on Wednesday (Apr 3). The new main contract marks the largest-ever contract win in Dyna-Mac’s history, “involving a record tonnage and number of process modules in a single contract”. “The other contracts secured by the group include the provision of services for the execution, fabrication, installation and integration work on vessels, and scope increase for current projects,” said Dyna-Mac.


US

US private payrolls increased more than expected in March, pointing to continued labor market strength. Private payrolls rose by 184,000 jobs last month after advancing by an upwardly revised 155,000 in February, the ADP Employment report showed. Economists had forecast private employment increasing by 148,000 last month compared to the previously reported 140,000 in February.

A meeting of the top ministers of Opec+ has kept oil output policy unchanged and pressed some countries to boost compliance with output cuts, a decision that spurred international crude prices to their highest in five months at nearly US$90 a barrel. A ministerial committee (the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, or JMMC) of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, known as Opec+, met online to review the market and members’ implementation of output cuts. Opec+ members, led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, last month agreed to extend voluntary output cuts of 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) until the end of June to support the market. The panel said it welcomed pledges from Iraq and Kazakhstan to achieve full conformity as well as compensate for overproduction, and Russia’s announcement that its cuts in the second quarter will be based on production rather than exports.

Disney shareholders on Wednesday reelected the media conglomerate’s full board, preliminary results show, handing a stinging defeat to activist Nelson Peltz and former Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter. The widely expected victory caps a combative monthslong process and affirms the board’s decisions, from the move to bring back CEO Bob Iger to his efforts to reinvigorate the US$223 billion media company. Peltz-led Trian Partners wanted to oust two directors, Maria Elena Lagomasino and Michael Froman, citing sustained share underperformance, a failed succession process, and billions in misdirected investments. Peltz lost to Lagomasino by a 2-to-1 margin, a person familiar with the matter said. Retail voters overwhelmingly supported Disney, that person added, helping to deliver Iger 94% of the overall vote. Former Disney Chief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo, whom Trian also nominated, lost to Lagomasino by an even larger 5-1 margin. A second activist, Blackwells, also failed to win board seats in its own long shot bid. Disney’s two largest shareholders, Vanguard and BlackRock, decided to back management in the final days before Wednesday’s meeting.

Spotify plans to raise prices for its audio service in key markets for the second time in a year. The move is being made to achieve long-term profitability. The streaming giant will increase prices by about US$1 to US$2 a month in five markets by the end of April. Citing sources, the markets include the UK, Australia, and Pakistan. Spotify is set to raise prices in the US later this year. The price raise is said to help the company cover the cost of audiobooks, with Spotify currently offering customers up to 15 hours of audiobook listening a month as part of the paid plan. Furthermore, the company will soon be offering a new basic tier that will provide music and podcasts for a monthly price of US$11. The new plan, however, will not include audiobooks. The new tier will be the first of several new pricing options from Spotify, with a “supremium” plan also in the works.

Tesla will send a team to India this month to scout locations for a proposed US$2 billion to US$3 billion electric car plant. The company will send a team from the United States by late April to study sites for the plant, with a focus on states that have automotive hubs such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, citing people familiar with the matter. India last month lowered import taxes on certain electric vehicles produced by carmakers that commit to invest at least US$500 million and start domestic manufacturing within three years.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co said all its workers were safe and those who were evacuated have started returning to some factory lines after a major earthquake hit Taiwan early Wednesday. A TSMC spokesperson said construction sites were normal upon initial inspection, but the company decided to suspend work at the sites for the day. The person said work will resume after further inspections and that TSMC is still evaluating details of the earthquake’s impact. Earlier, the chipmaker said it evacuated some personnel from some fabs in accordance with company safety protocols.

Paramount Global’s board has discussed entering exclusive merger discussions with Skydance, days after it received a US$26 billion all-cash offer from private equity firm Apollo Global Management, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Exxon Mobil on Wednesday signaled first-quarter operating results would drop over the prior quarter on weaker oil, gas prices and a big loss in fuel derivatives, a securities filing showed. The biggest impact in the latest quarter came from weak natural gas prices and fuel derivatives, which reversed course after run-ups last year. Overall, the snapshot shows about US$6.65 billion in operating profit for the quarter, compared to US$11.6 billion in the same quarter a year ago and US$7.63 billion in the fourth quarter. Investors expect the company to post an adjusted per share profit of US$2.21, compared to the year-ago’s US$2.83. The company also said fuel derivatives undercut gains in gasoline and diesel margins, costing it about US$1.1 billion compared to the fourth quarter. Refining maintenance costs also jumped last quarter, the filing showed. The company is expected to post full results for the period on April 26.

Apple is exploring the development of personal home robots after ditching its electric vehicle project. Engineers at Apple have been looking into a robot that can follow users around their homes and a tabletop device that uses robotics to adjust a display screen, citing people familiar with the research team. Apple’s hardware engineering division and its artificial intelligence and machine learning group are overseeing the work on personal robotics. The home robot project is still in the early research and development phase.

Levi Strauss raised its annual profit forecast on Wednesday, citing the apparel maker’s recent cost savings from job cuts and less aggressive discounts on its jeans and denim clothing. In a bid to cut costs, Levi’s has reduced its global corporate workforce, including trimming the number of senior leadership positions. It has also consolidated its operations in Europe and exited lower-margin businesses, such as its Denizen brand and footwear enterprise. The apparel retailer recorded a restructuring charge of US$116 million in the first quarter. Sales of Levi’s clothing directly to consumers on its website and at its network of company-owned stores rose 8% on a constant-currency basis, which follows a 10% increase in the prior quarter. CEO Michelle Gass said “new product” was driving growth in its direct-to-consumer business, especially in women’s styles, which Levi’s plans to expand with new tops, corsets and denim skirts. Its adjusted profit was 26 cents per share in the first quarter ended Feb. 25, above expectations of 21 cents. Yet, Levi’s sales through its wholesale channels – which include department stores such as Macy’s and other retailers such as Walmart fell by 19% on a constant-currency basis, a steeper decline than a 3% drop in the fourth quarter. Higher full-price sales and lower product costs led Levi’s gross margins to rise by 240 basis points to 58.2% in the first quarter, from 55.8% a year earlier. But the San Francisco-based firm said it continues to expect full-year revenue to grow in the range of 1% to 3%. The denim maker said it expects an adjusted profit between US$1.17 and US$1.27 per share for 2024, up from its prior forecast of US$1.15 to US$1.25. Analysts had expected a profit of US$1.21 per share before the guidance update. Its net revenue fell about 7.8% to US$1.56 billion in the first quarter, narrowly beating estimates of US$1.55 billion.

Source: SGX Masnet, Bloomberg, Channel NewsAsia, Reuters, CNBC, WSJ, The Business Times, PSR


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