Bulls and Bears

Investors eye penny stocks, ignore blue chips

SGX Centre 1 (left) in Raffles Place.
SGX Centre 1 (left) in Raffles Place.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

STI down for second consecutive day, but new listing iX Biopharma closes 22% higher

Investors ignored the big caps yesterday and kept their eyes on penny plays and a new listing that enjoyed a robust start to trading.

The low-key trading added more red ink and left the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) down 12.24 points or 0.36 per cent at 3,359.17, its second consecutive day of declines.

Pharmaceutical company iX Biopharma provided a bright spark. It debuted on the Catalist board by opening 7.6 per cent above its initial public offer price of 46 cents before closing 6.5 cents or 21.74 per cent higher at 56 cents.

"iX Biopharma produces specialised drugs for male erectile dysfunction that will be marketed mainly to Australia. It's a nice market story to pay attention to now, although the counter could have languished without the penny run," CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo said.

The latest pennies to ride the surge were engineering company Jasper Investments, which closed one cent or 166.67 per cent up at 1.6 cents, and furniture maker Cacola Furniture International, which surged 1.5 cents or 115.39 per cent to 2.8 cents.

S-chips rose between 44 and 52 per cent but previous favourites Edition lost 0.6 cent or 31.58 per cent to 1.3 cents, while CEFC International closed 4.5 cents or 15.25 per cent down at 25 cents.

"The penny rally is a good thing to have... but a certain balance is still necessary. Singapore Exchange is right to maintain some oversight on this to prevent another Blumont situation," Mr Teo noted, referring to the 2013 penny crash.

Logistics firm CWT rose two cents or 0.91 per cent to a record $2.22. Investors might be taking positions on the counter following rumours that the company's controlling shareholders are considering a sale of their stakes, Mr Teo said.

ComfortDelGro led the gainers among the blue chips, rising four cents or 1.32 per cent to $3.08 while HongKong Land Holdings gained eight US cents or 1 per cent to US$8.07. Singapore Press Holdings continued its rally since reporting 9.6 per cent year-on-year net profit rise for the quarter to May 31. It closed three cents or 0.71 per cent up at $4.23, part of a 4.7 per cent gain that the counter has seen since July 10.

Singapore Airlines was the biggest loser among the blue chips, paring 37 cents or 3.16 per cent to $11.33. Its subsidiary Tigerair reported a first quarter net loss of $1.7 million yesterday.

CapitaLand Mall Trust reported its distribution per unit rose 0.7 per cent year on year to 2.71 cents, but investors were not impressed, sending the counter down four cents or 1.83 per cent to $2.14.

Overseas, Shanghai went through a volatile session to end up 0.21 per cent but Hong Kong lost 0.99 per cent. Tokyo also cooled down after Tuesday's gain, dropping 1.19 per cent. In Kuala Lumpur, where market watchers are eyeing the development of the 1MDB scandals, the market was down 0.38 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2015, with the headline 'Investors eye penny stocks, ignore blue chips'. Print Edition | Subscribe