Tuesday 28 May 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 20): There seems to be no end in sight yet to the fall of British American Tobacco (M) Bhd share price, which topped the losers' list on Bursa Malaysia today, as it sank to its lowest level since 2003.

At 3.52pm, the stock was down 7.59% or RM1.04 to trade at RM12.66, after 2.56 million shares were traded. In the past 12 months, the stock has fallen about 65%. The current share price further trimmed the market capitalisation of Malaysia's biggest cigarette player to RM3.66 billion.

This means BAT has seen RM17.18 billion in market capitalisation vanish since the stock hit its all-time high of RM56.80 on Jan 12, 2014, when it had a market capitalisation of RM20.84 billion.

For perspective, the whopping sum lost is about six times the market capitalisation of Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd's, which stood at RM2.88 billion at press time, and almost the combined RM17.43 billion market capitalisation of Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd (market cap: 9.2 billion) and Heineken Malaysia Bhd (RM8.23 billion).

In September last year, BAT said it was in a lose-lose situation, where a rampant illicit cigarette trade was eating into its market share, while it has to contend with the rapidly-rising vape market, which is also not legal.

Two months later, BAT told The Edge Financial Daily that it was going to lay off 20% of its 500-strong workforce in Malaysia then. The development came on the heels of its smaller rival JT International Bhd’s (JTI Malaysia) announcement that it was laying off more than one-third of its workforce, which numbered 450 at the time.

It should also be noted that BAT Malaysia and JTI Malaysia had in 2017 closed down their manufacturing plants here, which had affected about 500 workers.

For the cumulative nine months ended Sept 30, 2019 (9MFY19), BAT's net profit fell 29.8% year-on-year to RM249.95 million, driven mainly by lower volume as a result of legal market contraction and the absence of one-off factors reported in the same period last year, like the benefit from the goods and services tax removal and prior year tax stamps refunds. Revenue for the period fell 10% to RM1.85 billion, from RM2.05 billion.

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