KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 19): Sentiment is expected to stay cautious in the week ahead as investors worry about whether the governments in Europe and the US could resolve the growing debt problems.
Reuters said a major question has been whether the European Central Bank will find a way to act as a lender of last resort in the manner of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Speculation has grown the ECB could lend money to the International Monetary Fund to bail out some euro zone members.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 25.43 points, or 0.22%, to 11,796.16. The S&P 500 dipped 0.48 point, or 0.04%, to 1,215.65. The Nasdaq Composite lost 15.49 points, or 0.60%, to 2,572.50. However, for the week, the Dow fell 2.9%, the S&P dropped 3.8% and the Nasdaq lost 4%.
As for Malaysia, while third quarter GDP expanded at a stronger pace of 5.8% on-year from a revised 4.3% in the second quarter, there were gnawing concerns about the headwinds in the fourth quarter and 2012.
RHB Research Institute said it tweaked its real GDP growth estimate for 2011 upwards to 5% from 4.5%.
“However, we are keeping our 2012 forecast unchanged and expect the economic growth to weaken to 3.6%, given that Eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis is still lingering and risk of it worsening remains high, and on the back of a slow US economic growth,” it said.
Stocks to watch on Monday include IOI CORPORATION BHD , Masterskill Education Group Bhd (MEGB), AFFIN HOLDINGS BHD , Benalec Holdings Bhd and TEXCHEM RESOURCES BHD .
IOI’s net profit for the first quarter ended Sept 30, 2011 fell 48.2% to RM258.09 million from RM498.13 million a year ago, due mainly to unrealised translation loss on foreign currency denominated borrowings of RM271.7million. The loss was higher than analysts’ estimates. The PLANTATION  company’s revenue for the quarter rose 17.9% to RM4.15 billion from RM3.52 billion a year ago.
Meanwhile, MEGB’s net profit for the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2011 fell 78.8% to RM5.55 million from RM26.18 million a year ago. It attributed the poorer financial performance mainly to lower student enrolment and higher overheads. MEGB’s revenue for the quarter fell to RM61.19 million from RM80.68 million in 2010.
For the nine months ended Sept 30, MEGB’s net profit fell 47.2% to RM39.72 million from RM75.29 million in 2010, while its revenue fell 14.5% to RM200.67 million from RM234.83 million.
However, Affin reported an improvement in its earnings, which rose 17.5% to RM135.19 million in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2011 from RM115.01 million a year ago, boosted by higher write-backs and higher Islamic banking income.
Its revenue increased 13.7% to RM680.12 million from RM597.82 million a year ago while earnings per share were 9.05 sen compared with 7.70 sen. It declared an interim dividend of 12 sen a share.
The Edge weekly reported that Benalec’s recent foray into land reclamation works at the oil and gas hub in Johor has raised some eyebrows. But if all goes well, the project will boost the total outstanding gross development value of its projects from about RM1.5 billion to over RM15 billion, said the report.
Another company to watch is Texchem on expectations it may unlocking value of some of its assets.
RAM Rating Services Bhd said the corporate exercise by Texchem would generate significant net cash inflows that will help to considerably strengthen its balance sheet and liquidity position.
However, the ratings agency was also concerned about its financial health. It downgraded the long-term rating of Texchem’s RM100 million debt notes from A3 to BBB1 with a negative outlook on rising concerns about the company's weakening financial performance.
RAM Ratings said the downgrading of Texchem’s long-term rating was based on its weakened business and financial performance.