Bulls And Bears

Consumer, property stocks in play after Budget moves

GST, stamp duty stir sectors but market reflects subdued mood across region

The Budget gave investors food for thought yesterday but the end result was not much to write home about.

Local shares reflected the subdued mood across the region, with the Straits Times Index (STI) falling 11.35 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 3,476.53.

Consumer and property stocks were in play after Budget moves on a higher goods and services tax (GST) and Buyers' Stamp Duty.

There was some cheer when the GST rise was put off for a few years but the unexpected hike in stamp duty hit the real estate sector.

Developer UOL fell 3.3 per cent while City Developments slipped 3 per cent, after news that the top marginal rate of buyers' stamp duty for properties exceeding $1 million will rise by 1 percentage point.

For many transactions clustering at just over the $1 million mark, the higher rate might be trivial. Indeed, some brokers said the recent price dip was an opportunity to buy shares in developers.

But as Nomura pointed out, the Government has signalled that it is ready to act should home prices rise beyond fundamentals. It will also get more expensive for developers to buy property in collective sales.

On the consumer front, an index standout was Genting Singapore, which owns Resorts World Sentosa. The counter rose four cents to $1.29. Genting's results are due on Friday.

DBS Bank said that the deferral of the GST hike to 2021 and beyond should lift consumer sentiment.

Genting, "which was sold down last week on GST concerns, should see a good rebound", it added.

Another consumer stock rallying hard was beauty products supplier Best World International, which rose five cents to $1.31. Maybank Kim Eng said expectations for Best World's results out next Monday "may be a tad too low".

There was no such fizz, however, for Thai Beverage, which slid two cents to 83.5 cents. The stock missed expectations in its latest results, in part due to expenses related to a Sabeco deal and a decline in spirit and beer sales. Analysts are finally coming round to the risks of its expensive Vietnam beer binge. It is worth noting that JP Morgan downgraded the stock from "overweight" to "underweight" a few months ago.

Manufacturers remained hot, notably semiconductor plays AEM and Micro-Mechanics. Components supplier Hi-P International was also heavily traded, hitting $2.35, a record high, before closing up two cents at $2.21. DBS last week raised Hi-P's target price to $2.48, but Maybank Kim Eng said its risk-reward profile has become less compelling.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2018, with the headline 'Consumer, property stocks in play after Budget moves'. Print Edition | Subscribe