Gas Malaysia, Country Heights Holdings, EKA Noodles, TRC Synergy, ManagePay Systems, Hartalega Holdings, Tenaga Nasional, Gadang Holdings and PPB Group

KUALA LUMPUR (May 9): Based on corporate announcements and news flow today, stocks in focus on Thursday (May 11) may include: Gas Malaysia Bhd, Country Heights Holdings Bhd, EKA Noodles Bhd, TRC Synergy Bhd, ManagePay Systems Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Gadang Holdings Bhd and PPB Group Bhd.

Gas Malaysia Bhd is setting aside about RM500 million in capital expenditure for its pipeline network expansion in the next three years, which includes its Natural Gas Distribution System (NGDS) network in peninsular Malaysia.

The group has so far extended its NGDS network to 2,186km, servicing more areas while successfully maintaining 99% service reliability.

In terms of earnings for the current financial year ending Dec 31, 2017 (FY17), chief executive officer Ahmad Hashimi Abdul Manap hopes to see better performance, in line with the growth in volume and customer base.

"Last year we registered about 3% volume growth, so this year we are looking at 3.5% to 4% growth. We hope that in-between we can find more customers, build more pipelines and hopefully it will add more revenue [to the group]," he said.

Separately, Gas Malaysia net profit grew 7.5% to RM33.74 million for the first quarter ended March 31, 2017 (1QFY17) from RM31.38 million a year ago, on higher gross profit in line with the increase in volume of gas sold, coupled with lower administrative expenses.

Quarterly revenue jumped 23.5% to RM1.19 billion from RM961.26 million in 1QFY16, thanks to higher volume of gas sold and the upward revision of natural gas tariff.

The group noted the growth in revenue for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2016 (FY16) was primarily driven by the increase in volume of gas sold and revisions in gas tariff.

Country Heights Holdings Bhd’s executive chairman and major shareholder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew's fixed deposits of some RM126 million placed in a foreign-owned bank has been seized by the Inland Revenue Board.

Lee notified the company via a letter dated May 8 that he "understands" the seizure was in relation to RM22.5 million worth of tax liabilities incurred by Country Height's wholly-owned unit and major subsidiary, Country Heights Sdn Bhd (CHSB).

The tax liabilities were accrued from the years of assessment of 1997 and 1998.

Four months after announcing its plan to shut down manufacturing of two loss-making subsidiaries, EKA Noodles Bhd has made an about-turn and announced today that both units will now resume their operations.

The subsidiaries are EKA Foodstuff Sdn Bhd and Kilang Bihun Bersatu Sdn Bhd (KBBSB).

On Jan 12 this year, EKA Noodles said it was planning to shut down operations of EFSB and its other wholly-owned unit KBBSB from Jan 18, after which it would sell off the assets of KBBSB to settle the latter's liabilities.

EKA Noodles had then said the move was proposed because both subsidiaries had been suffering losses for several years and were not expected to turn around in the near future.

As for KBBSB, EKA Noodle's board expects its production activities to fully resume by next month.

On May 8, the group appointed Tan Sri Tan King Tai @ Tan Khoon Hai as its non-independent and non-executive chairman, following the resignation of former independent non-executive chairman Datuk Sohaimi Shahadan on May 2.

Tan is the father-in-law of EKA Noodles’ executive director Fong Yit Meng, and sits on the Board of Directors in Pensonic Holdings Bhd, Muar Ban Lee Group Bhd and SWS Capital Bhd.

Construction firm TRC Synergy Bhd has struck an agreement with Starwood Australia Hotels Pty Ltd to manage a hotel in Melbourne, Australia.

Its wholly-owned subsidiary, TRC (Aust) Pty Ltd (TRCA), entered into a 12-year operating service agreement (OSA) with Starwood Australia to run the hotel known as Element Melbourne Richmond.

Starwood Australia is an affiliate of Marriott International Inc, the world's largest hotel chain operator that bought over Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc last September for US$13 billion.

Both parties also signed a Centralized Services Agreement for certain services provided to the hotel; and a Design Review Agreement for certain services with regards to the design and development of the hotel.

TRC said the development will consist of one hotel building with 168 guest rooms of minimum room size of 24 square meters, meeting space, eight floors including ground floor and two subterranean levels, 33 parking spaces, food and beverage facilities, fitness centre and other additional facilities and amenities required by the Element Hotel brand standards.

The development is scheduled to begin by Dec 30 this year and is to be operational by February 2020.

ManagePay Systems Bhd has been appointed by a joint venture company (JVCo) formed by major taxi consortiums here known as PICK N GO Sdn Bhd as the sole card payment facilitator for the JVCo's taxi e-hailing mobile application.

The appointment will see its wholly-owned unit ManagePay Services Sdn Bhd (MPay) enabling participating taxi operators to accept major card payments through their new taxi e-hailing mobile application, PickNGo.

Additionally, MPay will is deploying card terminals or MPOS for the acceptance of physical card payments for up to 8,000 registered taxis in Malaysia under the consortium by end of this year.

Hartalega Holdings Bhd’s net profit in its fourth quarter ended March 31, 2017 (4QFY17) improved by 45.3% to RM89.43 million from RM61.55 million a year earlier.

The improvement in its bottomline during the period was due to increase in sales revenue, improvement in operational efficiency, as well as reduction in operation overheads.

The group’s operating profit margin also increased from 12.9% to 22.1%.

Revenue in 4QFY17 grew by 31.6% to RM527 million, versus RM400.45 million in 4QFY16, thanks to higher sales volume and strengthening of the US dollar.

For the full financial year ended March 31, 2017 (FY17), Hartalega’s net profit came in at RM283.04 million, up 10% from RM257.43 million in FY16, on higher revenue and improved operational efficiency.

Full-year revenue stood at RM1.82 billion in FY17, 21.6% higher than RM1.5 billion posted a year earlier.

Hartalega also declared a third single-tier interim dividend of two sen per share in respect of financial year ended March 31, 2017, which will be paid on June 23, 2017.

Tenaga Nasional Bhd has inked a new power purchase agreement (PPA) and land lease agreement (LLA) with YTL Power International Bhd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, YTL Power Generation Sdn Bhd.

YTL Power Generation operates the combined-cycle gas-fired power plant in Paka, Terengganu.

The two new agreements are expected to take effect on Sept 1, 2017, which is the scheduled commercial operation date of the power plant.

The new LLA will replace the terms and conditions of the original LLA dated July 30, 1993 between TNB and YTL Power International. Further to this, the new LLA will govern the lease of the portion of TNB’s land in Paka used by YTL Power International for the purpose of the extension and demobilisation of the plant thereafter, the group said.

TNB said the new PPA governs the rights and obligations of the parties for the generation and sale of electricity, and for YTL to make available to TNB the generating capacity of up to 585 megawatt (MW) from its Paka plant.

TNB and YTL Power International had in March 1993, inked a 21-year PPA for the sale and purchase of electrical energy generated by YTL at its power plants in Paka and Pasir Gudang, Johor, which have a generating capacity of 808MW and 404MW respectively.

YTL Power International noted that the PPA had expired in September 2015 in its 2016 annual report.

Subsequently, YTL Power International said it was awarded with the project to supply electricity from its power plant in Paka under the short-term capacity bid called by the Energy Commission (EC).

Gadang Holdings Bhd’s 51%-owned joint venture company Gadang CRFG Consortium Sdn Bhd has won a major traffic dispersion and improvement job from TRX City Sdn Bhd worth RM327.91 million.

China Railway First Group Co’s subsidiary, CRFG Malaysia Bhd, owns the remaining 49% in Gadang CRFG Consortium.

TRX City is the master developer of the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) development.

In a separate statement, TRX City said the contract is part of a larger effort by the Kuala Lumpur City Council (DBKL) and the federal government to improve traffic along Jalan Tun Razak and its vicinity, to lessen traffic loading on Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Tun Razak by as much as 27%.

PPB Group Bhd's 55%-owned engineering arm CWM Group Sdn Bhd has bagged RM50 million worth of jobs in water and sewage treatment projects in Selangor and Johor year to date, bringing its current order book to about RM200 million.

At a press conference after PPB's annual general meeting today, CWM's chief executive officer Leong Yew Weng said the remaining RM550 million worth of jobs the company has tendered for are yet to be awarded.

"These two projects, valued at about RM50 million, are located in Selangor and Johor. The projects have started, we got [them] about one or two months ago. They're in the design stage now," said Leong.

Leong's portfolio in PPB also includes the group's 55%-owned manufacturing unit called Chemquest Sdn Bhd, which he said management is exploring more business opportunity abroad.

"On the manufacturing side, we are exploring Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam to supply household consumer products," he said. Besides household products, Chemquest also manufactures cosmetics.

PPB's managing director Lim Soon Huat, meanwhile, said for FY17, the group's growth will still be driven by its grains and agribusiness segment, which contributed 66% or RM2.86 billion to the group's topline.

The group's 80%-owned flour miller FFM Bhd is currently producing at 2,550MT per day. PPB is commissioning two more wheat flour mills, which can churn out an additional 500MT per day each, one in Pasir Gudang, Johor, and another in Vietnam.

As for its second biggest core business — cinemas — PPB is set to open three new GSC branches comprising 39 screens this year, with six new cinemas in Vietnam totalling 38 screens via its 40%-owned Galaxy Studio JSC.

The group will also add three more screens to its existing GSC Summit in Petaling Jaya. GSC now has 305 screens in 33 locations, while Galaxy Studio has 43 screens in seven locations.