Monday 25 Sep 2023
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KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 11): The Employees Provident Fund's (EPF) stake in Hartalega Holdings Bhd slipped to 6.93% last Friday (Aug 5), after the EPF sold 4.32 million shares in the rubber glove manufacturer.

In a statement to Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday (Aug 10), Hartalega said the 6.93% stake comprises 237.52 million shares in the company.

Prior to the latest-reported transaction, the EPF owned a 7.056% stake in Hartalega, according to the company's filing on Tuesday.

About a year earlier, the EPF's stake in Hartalega stood at 8.156% on Aug 9, according to a filing back then.

The Malaysian rubber glove sector is closely watched as a beneficiary of the Covid-19 outbreak, which started in early 2020, as demand for the product, seen as a crucial piece of personal protective equipment, jumped to curb the global spread of the pandemic.

Covid-19-driven demand for gloves is, however, now seen normalising as global vaccination progress has led to anticipation that the Covid-19 outbreak can be curbed.

Such sentiment is already reflected in share prices of major glove manufacturers like Hartalega and its rivals Top Glove Corp Bhd, Supermax Corp Bhd and Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd.

Shares prices of Top Glove, Hartalega, Supermax and Kossan, which have been adjusted for their respective bonus share issues, have fallen sharply to current levels from highs seen during the critical phase of the Covid-19 outbreak.

On Aug 21, 2020, Top Glove closed at RM9.33, Hartalega finished at RM17.74, Supermax ended at RM10.95, and Kossan closed at RM8.20.

Hartalega down on Thursday

At the noon break on Thursday, Hartalega settled down 17 sen or 6.94% at RM2.28, which valued the group at about RM7.8 billion.

The company has 3.42 billion outstanding shares, according to its latest annual report.

Its net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2022 (1QFY23) slumped to RM88.28 million, from RM2.26 billion a year earlier, as revenue dropped significantly at a time when glove average selling prices and sales volume declined after rising to record highs during the crucial period of the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to Hartalega's Bursa filing on Tuesday, higher energy and labour costs due to increases in natural gas tariffs and the minimum wage in Malaysia had also affected the company's profitability.

Its revenue dropped to RM845.67 million for 1QFY23, from RM3.9 billion a year earlier.

Edited ByChong Jin Hun
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