Wuhan virus: Investors and product sellers look to profit from new coronavirus in China

Medical staff on Jan 18, 2020, carrying a patient into a hospital where patients infected by a mysterious virus are being treated in Wuhan, China. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Investors are piling into shares of some health-product companies that they believe could benefit from the new coronavirus in China.

Some mainland pharmaceutical companies which said they have developed kits for detecting the virus saw their stocks jump by the daily limit on Tuesday (Jan 21) in China as worries build about the ailment's spread. In Japan, firms in the protection gear, air-cleaning equipment and emergency transport sectors rose more than 10 per cent, while Malaysian rubber glove producers climbed at least 5 per cent.

But many Asian tourism and consumer stocks fell again on Tuesday over concern that the virus will cause people to cancel trips during the Chinese New Year holiday and stay home during what should be a peak travel-and-spending week for China's billion-strong consumers.

Da An Gene Co, Xilong Scientific and Shanghai Kehua Bio-Engineering jumped the 10 per cent maximum in China after unveiling their virus-detection kits on Monday on investor forums. Star-market-listed Jiangsu Bioperfectus Technologies surged that board's 20 per cent limit for a second day. It revealed on Jan 15 the development of its own diagnosis kits.

Many of the firms emphasised that the products would have limited impact on near-term revenue, and the kits are being primarily provided to disease-control and healthcare centres around China. They have also yet to register the products with the government.

Meanwhile, product resellers are looking to profit from heavy consumer buying of protection goods.

On Taobao, a major Chinese e=commerce website, a pack of 20 3M masks in November was priced from 178 yuan (S$36). Sellers on Tuesday were charging 960 yuan to 1,100 yuan for the same item.

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