HLIB Research anticipated CPO prices to soften from the second quarter on the back of better supply outlook for major edible oils, which in turn could result in a balanced demand-supply dynamics. PETALING JAYA: Crude palm oil (CPO) is expected to sustain its uptrend to trade above RM3,000 per tonne until the first quarter of next year, says Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd (HLIB). Beyond this period, however, HLIB Research anticipated CPO prices to soften from the second quarter on the back of better supply outlook for major edible oils, which in turn could result in a balanced demand-supply dynamics. The current high palm oil-gas oil spread and the price spread between CPO and soy oil also pointed to a weaker CPO price in the second quarter of next year. The research unit has raised its average CPO price forecast to RM2,700 per tonne for 2020 from RM2,350 per tonne and RM2,400 per tonne in 2021-2022 respectively. This is to reflect HLIB Research’s positive view on palm oil’s demand outlook. Following the upward revision on its average CPO price projections, the research unit has raised the core net profit forecasts for the plantation companies under its coverage. HLIB Research is also revising the target share price for plantation stocks under its radar. Post revisions in the target price, the research unit has upgraded the ratings from hold to buy on Hap Seng Plantations Bhd, IJM Plantations Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd. However, HLIB Research is maintaining a:neutral” call on the plantation sector. “We believe the current CPO price will not sustain over the longer term, ” it added. Meanwhile, Maybank Investment Bank (Maybank IB) in its latest report noted that planters’ earnings in the fourth quarter of 2020 could possibly still be on an uptrend. “Plantation is one of the few sectors that delivered strong Q3 PATMI growth (152% y-o-y, 40% q-o-q) in a year subdued by Covid-19 pandemic. The cumulative nine months FY2020, the sector delivered 142% y-o-y PATMI growth, driven largely by higher CPO average selling price (ASP). Going forward, the research unit expected a high CPO price to sustain the fourth quarter FY2020 earnings growth. Maybank IB has recently raised its industry-wide CPO ASP forecasts to RM2,660 per tonne for 2020 and RM2,500 per tonne for 2021. Broadly, the pure upstream planters delivered stronger y-o-y core PATMI growth in Q3 compared with the integrated players. As CPO ASP achieved in Q3 broke away from upstream’s break even units cost, the incremental benefit from the higher price flowed down directly to the bottom lines. Maybank IB also envisaged that current high CPO prices could ration demand given present tight supply as the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s (MPOB) October stockpile hit a three-year low of 1.57 million tonnes. Ahead of MPOB’s November stockpile release on Thursday, the market is forecasting palm oil inventory to ease marginally to 1.54 million tonnes on weaker month-on-month November output.
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