Best World's meteoric rise prompts queries from SGX

Best World co-founders Dora Hoan (centre left) and Doreen Tan (centre right). An average of 1.8 million shares have been traded daily over the past six months, pushing the company to a market capitalisation of $303 million.
Best World co-founders Dora Hoan (centre left) and Doreen Tan (centre right). An average of 1.8 million shares have been traded daily over the past six months, pushing the company to a market capitalisation of $303 million.PHOTO: BEST WORLD LIFESTYLE

Firm's shares quadruple this year, with 161% jump in first-quarter revenue to $35.2m

The shares of multi-level marketing firm Best World International have more than quadrupled this year, making it one of the best-performing stocks on the bourse.

Best World may have delivered bumper first-quarter results in May but the counter's meteoric rise from 33.5 cents at the start of the year to $1.375 at yesterday's close has left punters confounded and prompted three market surveillance queries from the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in the past two months.

Last night, Best World answered yet another Singapore Exchange query, this time regarding clarifications to its first-quarter financial statements.

The group had posted a 161 per cent jump in revenue to $35.2 million for the three months to March 31 on a 353 per cent surge in sales from Taiwan, Best World's biggest direct selling market. Net profit was $6 million, up from $249,000 in the same period a year earlier.

But the Best World rally began way before May and has extended long beyond that. An average of 1.8 million shares have been traded daily over the past six months, pushing Best World to a market capitalisation of $303 million. In the six months before that, the average daily volume was 486,863.

Founder and co-chairman Doreen Tan told the Straits Times that the SGX queries were "the norm, because the shares moved very fast. We are also very surprised that so many people like us (but) we are not those people who would like people to play with our counter, no no".

She added: "People ask me whether your company is worth buying or not. I always tell them look at the management, the directors. All of us are working very hard. We mean business. We engage our distributors to work very hard if they want a better life."

In fact, the keener interest may suggest that Best World's investor roadshows have paid off, said chief operating officer Huang Ban Chin. "We've been pretty active in terms of promoting our company to the investment community, locally and to funds in Hong Kong and China."

Initial interest was not high "but you can tell that they have been watching us, and interest picked up in the fourth quarter last year", he added.

Analysts find it hard to say how the counter will trade from here. Remisier Desmond Leong said: "I thought it would settle at $1, then it broke $1. I think it's a bit too fast, too soon. These sort of stocks usually scare me.

"Just be careful - usually stocks that are fast up come down fast as well."

Meanwhile, CIMB Securities analyst Jonathan Seow is sticking to the "add" rating he put on the stock in April, noting that part of the excitement comes as Best World is expected to secure its direct selling licence in China by early next year.

"In China, the model of direct selling as a retail channel is more accepted. China is the second largest market for direct selling globally," he noted.

Best World's largest shareholders are Dr Tan and co-chairman Dora Hoan. They have a combined 46 per cent direct and deemed interest in the company.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2016, with the headline 'Best World's meteoric rise prompts queries from SGX'. Print Edition | Subscribe