Is the diminishing fortune of glove stocks here to stay?

FOR now, it seems that there is little respite for the Big Four glove makers on Bursa Malaysia even though their prospects are deemed to be “fundamentally sound” judging from the “buy” rating accorded by most research houses.

With the COVID-19 vaccine arrival – and the first phase of the immunisation programme scheduled to kick off from Feb 26 to April for frontline personnel – it can be observed that trader/investors are slowly deserting glove counters.

Instead the focus seems to have shifted to recovery-theme sectors such as aviation, gaming, breweries and number forecast operators.

Likewise, attention also seemed to focus on the technology sector as well as oil & gas (O&G) stocks following the spiralling of Brent crude prices to the US$65/barrel level.

Late last month, the Big Four glove stocks led by Top Glove Corp Bhd ‘attempted’ to regain their loss ground from the GameStop-inspired short squeeze rally but the frenzy was short-lived.

Even as the Securities Commission (SC) and Bursa Malaysia has on yesterday extended the temporary suspension of intraday short selling (IDSS) and intraday short selling by propriety day traders to Aug 29, glove stocks are still subjected to regulated short selling (RSS) which made a comeback on Jan 1.

Yesterday alone, Top Glove Corp Bhd was the volume leader with 2.63 million shares shorted at a value of RM15.31 mil, according to Bursa Malaysia data.

Its fellow Big Four counterpart Supermax Corp Bhd had 1.31 million shares worth RM7.24 mil sold short while 712,200 shares of Hartalega Holdings Bhd valued at RM8.35 mil were also shorted.

As its share price headed south, Top Glove has again accelerated its share buyback yesterday, mopping up 10.11 million shares between the prices of RM5.78 and RM5.87 for RM58.86 mil.

This is the third time this month that Top Glove has bought back its own shares. It spent a total of RM141.8 mil altogether, notably RM29.97 mil on Feb 19, RM49.27 mil (Feb 16) and RM3.69 mil (Feb 10).

There was no share buyback on January with Top Glove last purchased 576,900 of its own shares on Dec 14 last year for RM3.63 mil.

In the final quarter of last year, Top Glove spent a staggering RM1.28 bil on share buybacks, including RM354.74 million in September, RM802.55 mil (November) and RM123.5 mil (December).

At 12.07pm, Top Glove was down 5 sen or 0.87% to RM5.73 with 15.22 million shares traded, thus valuing the company at RM47 bil. – Feb 23, 2021

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