Pleasant ride for transport operators

BUS-TLING: SBS Transit rose 7.5 cents or 5.7 per cent to $1.40, amid hopes that positive changes in public transport policy will be unveiled.


    May 21, 2014

    Pleasant ride for transport operators

    THE Singapore market inched up yesterday, but it was basically another session of watching and waiting for cautious investors.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index rose 3.04 points or 0.09 per cent to 3,265.47.

    The news story of the day was the implementation of martial law in Thailand, but trading rooms responded with a collective yawn.

    Still, analysts said that traders should take into consideration such political risks. The declaration of martial law in the kingdom "places authority in the army's hands, with sweeping powers to detain people", noted CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    "Coupled with the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine, traders should tread with caution in this environment of increased geopolitical risk."

    Despite the general market slumber, the transport operators were on a roll.

    Hopes were high that the Government will announce positive changes in public transport policy, which could help the operators cope with the poorer-performing parts of their businesses.

    ComfortDelGro Corp rose seven cents or 3 per cent to $2.38, hitting a fresh seven-year high. The stock's all-time high was $2.44, recorded in 2007.

    ComfortDelGro unit SBS Transit rose 7.5 cents or 5.7 per cent to $1.40, while SMRT Corp jumped 14.5 cents or 10.9 per cent to $1.475.

    Among the banks, DBS Group Holdings fell one cent or 0.1 per cent to $16.84, OCBC Bank slipped two cents or 0.2 per cent to $9.68 and United Overseas Bank gained eight cents or 0.4 per cent to $22.63.

    "Of the three Singapore banks under our coverage, we believe DBS is best able to hold its ground should deposit competition intensify, given its extremely liquid balance sheet and a solid deposit franchise characterised by the highest proportion of cheap funding," said Maybank Kim Eng Research, maintaining its "overweight" call on banks.

    DBS is its top pick as the bank is "best positioned to take advantage of a rising-interest-rate environment".

    It is still cautious towards OCBC, with a "hold" call and $9.22 target price. It ranks DBS as a "buy", with a target price of $20.30, and has a "buy" call and $24.30 target price on UOB.

    Across the market, 1.3 billion shares worth $939 million changed hands, down from Monday's 2.1 billion shares worth $1.48 billion.

    Elsewhere in the region, Hong Kong shares rose 0.6 per cent to a five-week high. Thai shares fell 1.1 per cent to a one-week low after the declaration of martial law.