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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Affin Hwang Research upgrades healthcare to overweight

Thursday, 22 Mar 201810:36 AM MYT

Despite the underperformance of IHH and KPJ’s share prices year-to-date, the research house thinks that the sector’s earnings prospects are being overlooked.

KUALA LUMPUR: Affin Hwang Capital Research has upgraded its call on the healthcare sector to overweight as it upgrades IHH Healthcare to Buy after the 4Q17 results.

Companies within the sector reported satisfactory FY17 numbers, with two above and two in line with expectations.

“Going into FY18, hospital operators should deliver robust earnings growth on the back of new hospital openings, recovery in private healthcare spending, lower start-up losses and benign competition.

“The pharmaceutical outlook remains positive, supported by secular demand for prescription drugs and strong monthly export numbers. Our top picks are KPJ Healthcare  and Apex Healthcare ,” it said.

Affin Hwang Research said KPJ’s inpatient admissions registered 2.4% on-year growth in FY17 after 2 years of flattish growth, while IHH’s inpatient admissions in its Malaysia operations grew by 2.3% on-year (vs. 5% in FY16 and 0% in FY15).

“This may signal a recovery in private healthcare spending after seeing the private hospital’s inpatient market share decline from the peak of 32.1% in 2013 to 29.4% in 2016.

“Hospital expansions and greenfield projects from both KPJ and IHH in FY18 should lead to increases in operating beds. We estimate 4% on-year and 6% on-year inpatient volume growth for KPJ and IHH respectively,” it said.

The research house’s studies show that the average number of hospital beds (public and private) was c. 1.9 per 1,000 population in FY17, which is below the global average of 2.6.

Figures for some states were as low as 1.1-1.4, suggesting that there is room for secular demand growth.

In addition, rising income per capita and increased insurance coverage are key drivers to support private healthcare expenditures in the long run.

Affin Hwang Research said the pharmaceutical’s outlook remains positive. YSP Southeast Asia and Apex Healthcare’s FY17 revenue grew by 10% on-year and 7% on-year respectively, underpinned by stable growth of c. 9% on-year growth in the pharmaceutical market.

“We saw a rising contribution of local generic drugs to substitute patented and imported drugs. Monthly export numbers of pharmaceutical products from Malaysia continue to show steady growth in the past few months.

“We believe all these positive factors support our upgraded overweight view on the pharmaceutical sector,” it said.

Despite the underperformance of IHH and KPJ’s share prices year-to-date, the research house thinks that the sector’s earnings prospects are being overlooked.

“We believe IHH’s earnings growth should return when its new hospitals mature, while KPJ’s new hospital openings should draw higher patient volume growth. We maintain our BUY rating on YSP due to its growing exports in Asean.

“Apex Healthcare’s earnings in FY18E should be supported by steady demand for pharmaceutical products while contributions from SPP NOVO by year-end will be a growth catalyst in the medium term,” it said.


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