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KUALA LUMPUR: The plantation sector outlook in 2022 will continue to be challenged by the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, higher taxation, lower export amid bullish crude palm oil (CPO) price projection, say analysts.
In 2021, the share prices of most listed plantation companies had a dismal performance, which failed to reflect on the strong CPO prices that was driven by the supply tightness situation.
The benchmark Kuala Lumpur Plantation (KLPLN) Index has dropped by about 11% year-to-date compared with a 36% jump in CPO price this year.
This signifies that there is a disconnection between the share prices and the higher CPO price realised by the plantation companies.
Analysts generally opined that the underperformance could be due to increasing ESG concerns by local and foreign fund managers when constructing their portfolios and also the lack of participation from retail investors in the sector.CLICK TO ENLARGEAccording to Kenanga Research, the plantation sector performed poorly in 2021 despite strong CPO prices and planters’ earnings upgrades following two strong quarters of earnings, which surpassed expectations.
Going into 2022, the research house envisaged that planters’ will likely post good fourth quarter 2021 and first quarter 2022 results.
“However with CPO prices softening, we sense caution among investors.
“This is an understandable sentiment amid expectation of a commodity price down-cycle, hence our neutral stance on the plantation sector,” it said in its latest report.
Kenanga Research also expects the plantation companies to reward investors with higher dividends, and pare down borrowings or both – thanks to their stronger cash flows.
“However, what would be even more appealing is a sensible expansion plan,” the research house added.
On the supply situation, it anticipated that the oil and fats market to stage a strong recovery next year.
“This will come from improving palm oil output and sizeable soybean harvest in both South and North America.”Going into 2022, Kenanga Research envisaged that planters’ will likely post good fourth quarter 2021 and first quarter 2022 results.“However with CPO prices softening, we sense caution among investors.
The research house noted that prices of oil and fats have been facing downward pressure, with CPO moderating from its record levels in October 2021.
“However, this is still premised on an anticipated upswing in supply actually coming through.