Wednesday, January 4, 2012

RHB Research maintains Underweight on semicon sector

KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 4): RHB Research Institute is maintaining its Underweight call on the semiconductor sector as it has yet to see any strong indications that the industry is poised for a stronger recovery.

It said on Wednesday the EU debt crisis has already taken its toll on the chips demand in the region as reflected by a sharper decline of 11.5% on-year in November (versus October: 7.7%).

'Although sales of smartphones with the latest wireless chips remained the bright spot for the industry, this was not able to offset the weak demand from the broader market.

'We believe that chip sales (especially from the US and Europe regions) will be a better indicator as to whether a sustainable recovery is in sight,' it said.

On the outlook for MPI, it said although MPI was focusing on new segments such as the automotive and mobile devices (i.e. X3-MLP and MEMS), it believes the slowing consumer spending on the broader market such as PCs and consumer electronics would have bigger knock-on effects on MPI's medium-term earnings.

'This is mainly because revenue contributions from these segments are the highest. Hence, we maintain our Underperform call on the stock and a fair value estimate of RM2.10/share based on 0.6 times forward P/BV,' it said.

RHB Research also said Unisem was not spared too despite qualifying for new customers. Unisem's earnings visibility remains poor given weak order visibility and customers' lower order rate despite commencing volume loading for newly acquired customers.

'We believe medium-term chips demand would remain uninspiring given weakness in end-market demand for consumer electronics and corporate IT equipment. Therefore, we reiterate our Underperform call and fair value estimate of RM0.92/share based on 0.6 times forward P/BV,' it said.

As for Notion Vtec, the research house said while it remains positive on Notion's camera segment on the back of rising adoption of SLR cameras amongst consumers, it is wary of its renewed focus on the HDD business.

'Recall that the company incurred substantial cost increase following its capacity ramp-up of its 2.5'' HDD in FY09/10. Furthermore, we believe demand for HDDs could be hampered in the longer term by demand for alternative storage mechanisms i.e. cloud computing and hybrid storage. Thus, we maintain our Underperform call on the stock with a fair value estimate of RM1.21/share based on 6x FY09/12 EPS,' it said.

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