STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Shares edge up at midday as Noble rises

Last Updated: Tue, Aug 14, 2012 04:30 hrs

Singapore's key index rose to its highest in nearly a week, supported by gains in commodity firm Noble Group Ltd after it reported stronger quarterly earnings.

The benchmark Straits Times Index was up 0.1 percent at 3,068.63 points, in line with the MSCI's Asia-Pacific ex-Japan index's 0.2 percent gain.

However, the STI's rise will likely be capped by losses in blue chip heavyweight stock, Singapore Telecommunications , which fell 1.2 percent to S$3.35.

Southeast Asia's biggest telephone company, SingTel, on Tuesday posted a 3.2 percent rise in first-quarter net profit to S$945 million.

However, its core net profit, which excludes one-time gains, fell 2.6 percent to S$850 million and missed expectations, due to weak numbers from its Indian affiliate Bharti Airtel, said CIMB Research.

"The main disappointment sprang from Bharti," CIMB said, partly due to higher network costs, a fall in the Indian rupee.

Noble shares rose 5.4 percent to S$1.175 with 66.5 million shares traded, 1.6 times its average daily volume over the last five sessions. It reported a 39.3 percent rise in its April-June net profit, helped by a rise in sales and strong volume growth.

"Noble showing good execution for another quarter will likely help generate greater interest in the stock given global financial crisis-like valuations on the stock currently," said Citigroup.

1213 (0413 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore;


10:33 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-CIMB ups Wheelock target price

CIMB Research raised its target price for Wheelock Properties Singapore Ltd to S$1.81 from S$1.78 and kept its 'neutral' rating, citing better-than-expected first half core earnings.

By 0207 GMT, Wheelock shares were up 0.5 percent at S$1.855, and have gained 22.8 percent so far this year, compared to the Thomson Reuters Asia Pacific and Russia Real Estate Operations Index 17.6 percent so far this year.

Wheelock reported a 31 percent rise in second quarter net profit to S$48.5 million, helped by stronger sales at its Orchard View property in Singapore, said CIMB.

However, stronger volume at the development came at the expense of lower average selling price of S$2,900 per square foot (psf), compared to S$3,210 psf last year.

Wheelock is expected to launch two remaining residential sites in the next 12 months, and occupancy at its Wheelock Place property recovered to 93 percent in the second quarter from 84 percent in the previous three months. CIMB noted.

1016 (0216 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore;


9:59 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-STX OSV Holdings up on dividend surprise

Shares of offshore vessel builder STX OSV Holdings Ltd jumped as much as 4.5 percent to their highest level in nearly three months, after it announced higher-than-expected dividends in the second quarter.

STX OSV posted a one percent rise in its second-quarter net profit to 278 million Norwegian crowns from a year ago, boosted by higher operating revenue.

The shipbuilder declared an special interim dividend of 13 Singapore cents, compared to 5 Singapore cents for the year ago period.

"The dividend was a surprise and higher-than-expected. That's boosting its share price today. Margins, though down, were also better than expected and holding up," said Jason Saw, an analyst at DMG & Partners.

STX said its second-quarter earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin was 13.8 percent, versus 16.4 percent a year ago.

It also expects to benefit from a strong subsea market, with increased offshore installation activity continuing to drive demand.

0949 (0149 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore;


9:21 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Noble shares at 8-week high on strong earnings

Shares of commodity trader Noble Group rose as much as 5.4 percent to an eight-week high after it reported strong quarterly earnings and several brokerages raised their target prices on the firm.

By 0111 GMT, Noble shares were 4.9 percent higher at S$1.17, with 22.2 million shares traded, making it the most actively traded stock on the exchange.

Noble recorded a 39.3 percent rise in its April-June net profit, helped by a rise in sales and strong volume growth.

OCBC Investment Research upgraded Noble to 'buy' from 'hold' and raised its target price to S$1.28 from S$1.21, as it expects stronger revenue for the year.

Although Noble saw higher volumes and a record tonnage of 107 million in the first half, operating margins were lower, OCBC noted.

CIMB Research also raised its target price for Noble to S$1.46 from S$1.42, and kept its 'outperform' rating, as it expects its South American grain origination business to benefit from the U.S. drought.

"Profits will strengthen in the second half as sugar harvesting peaks," said CIMB in a report, raising its 2012-2014 earnings per share estimates by 1-3 percent.

0912 (0112 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore;

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