The rail economics of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL)


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Rail link seen as game changer but cost is a concern.

TOK Bali, a fishing village in Kelantan with its beautiful sandy beaches and pristine blue waters has long been a hidden gem among well-travelled backpackers. But that may soon change. The idyllic town is one that is touted to potentially become a tourist hotspot, as it sits along the alignment of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), a multi-billion infrastructure project that promises many economic spin-offs.

After almost a decade in planning, ECRL was launched with great pomp this week.

Touted as a key game-changer for the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia, the interstate ECRL is expected to help the economy of the four states that it covers by an additional 1.5% per year over the next 50 years.

On a micro level, more employment opportunities, particularly skilled jobs, will be made available to Malaysians. Domestic industry players especially in the construction sector, can now anticipate construction contracts to the tune of RM16bil, at least.

   
Another milstone:Najib checking out a train model at the ground-breaking ceremony this week.He called ECRL ‘another milestore in the country’s land public transport history”.

The ECRL is expected to benefit freight transport because it would link key economic and industrial areas within the East Coast Economic Region such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, Gambang Halal Park, Kertih Biopolymer Park and Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park to both Kuantan Port and Port Klang.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called it “another milestone in the country’s land public transport history”.

Despite the much highlighted economic benefits from the rail network, the venture is attracting its own share of controversies from the way the contract was awarded to the price of contract.

For one, China’s state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) has been appointed for the construction of ECRL via a direct negotiation method.

Detractors have labelled ECRL – at a cost of RM80mil per kilometre – as the world’s costliest rail project. Note that, the Gemas-Johor Baru double-tracking stretch costs RM45mil per km.

ECRL, however, will go over hilly terrain and has several tunnels to be built.

There are questions on whether the 688km rail venture, at RM55bil, will be financially feasible.

Sources say the price tag is unlikely to have included land acquisition costs.

They indicate that close to half of the land plots required for the rail link sit on private land and would require land acquisition. At this point, the total land acquisition cost is unknown.

No money in rail

The concerns of the critics are understandable, given the fact that public infrastructure projects, namely rail projects are usually not commercially viable.

A quick check on the finances of Malaysia’s very own Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) and a number of major rail operators abroad, affirms the fact that rail projects do not promise easy money.

The loss-making KTMB which was corporatised in 1992, has not been able to financially sustain itself, resulting in the deterioration of its level of service despite attempts to turn around the company.

According to the railway service operator’s latest publicly available audited report for financial year 2013, the group registered a total net loss of RM128.2mil. However, note that, the net loss had narrowed by 46% from RM238.5mil in the previous year.

Had it not been for the government’s subsidy which kept it afloat, KTMB would find it difficult to continue its operations without a further raise of its fare.

In India, where railway is a favoured mode of transportation, the Indian Railways has been incurring losses on passenger operations every year. Earlier this year, the lower chamber of the Indian parliament was told that the state-owned rail operator recorded a loss of Rs359.18bil (RM24.04bil) in the period of 2015 to 2016.

This was slightly higher than its loss of Rs334.91bil (RM22.42bil) in the period of 2014-2015.

On the other hand, China’s state-owned rail operator, China Railway Corp, was reported to have recorded a 58% increase in earnings last year despite huge losses in the first nine months. However, a zoom into its finances reveals that the high profit made was only possible due to a significant annual government subsidy.

Similarly, Singapore’s SMRT Corp which manages the city-state’s rail operations posted a profit of S$7.4mil (RM23.33mil) in its financial year of 2016. This was on the back of a revenue of S$681mil (RM2.15bil), which rose by 4.1% year-on-year.

While the rail operations saw higher ridership in that year, SMRT Corp would have registered a loss of S$9.6mil (RM30.26mil) for its rail business, if not for the net property tax refund of S$17.1mil (RM53.9mil).

Considering the lack of commercial viability in such rail projects, ECRL would ultimately require assistance from the government in ensuring smooth operations, while maintaining an affordable service for its users. This is akin a crucial trade-off, to complement the government’s move to provide an integrated transportation system in Malaysia, which is long overdue.

AmBank Group’s chief economist Anthony Dass tells StarBizWeek that for every ringgit spent on capital projects such as transportation, it generates a return or multiplier effect of around 5% to 20%.

In his estimation, he says the ECRL should create around RM50-55bil in terms of gross domestic product.

“The impact of this project to the economy will be multilevel. Impact on the respective states’ GDP and national GDP will be evident, though the magnitude of the impact on the respective states is poised to vary.

“On a longer term, once the entire project is completed, we expect strong benefits seeping into services related activities. Properties in the major towns is likely to enjoy more especially the port-connected towns, driven by logistics- and trade-related businesses.

“Other areas would benefit from the movement of tourism. As for the smaller towns, they are more likely to enjoy from the spillovers of this connectivity through movement of people commuting to work and new areas of business growth especially in areas like the small and medium businesses,” says Anthony.

High cargo projections

By the year 2040, an estimated 8 million passengers and 53 million tonnes of cargo are expected to use the ECRL service annually as the primary transport between the east coast and west coast.

By 2040, ECRL is projected to support a freight density of 19 million tonnes.

The freight cargo projections of the rail network stands in stark contrast to the total cargo volume running through the entire Malaysian railways today.

As of 2015, the entire Malaysian railways operations handled a sum of 6.21 million tons of cargo, according to a study related to the ECRL.

To note, the revenue from the operation of the venture is projected to be obtained through a transportation ratio of 30% passengers and 70% freight.

If the projections of ECRL are anything to go by, the planners are anticipating a ballistic growth in volume of cargo being moved along the tracks.

Is this realistic?

Socio Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie remains concerned on the details of the project financing, albeit the expected trickle-down benefits of ECRL.

“While ECRL has been identified as a high impact public transport project that will connect east coast states with the west coast, especially Greater KL and Klang Valley, the high cost of RM55bil requires further justification. More clarity on the cost structure and terms and conditions of the loan is needed to ease public genuine concerns.

“It must be noted that the high costs, low profits and long gestation periods of transportation projects do not always make them financially viable. The financial viability of the ECRL would depend on the revenue generated to cover operating cash flow, including interest expenses.

“As the loan will have a seven year moratorium, the bunching of loan repayment together with interest payment will be substantial in the remaining 13 years,” he says.

Lowering cost the key

In terms of funding, 85% of the total project value of RM55bil would be to be funded by Exim Bank of China’s through a soft loan at a 3.25% interest.

The balance 15% would be financed through a sukuk programme by local banks.

There is no payment for the first seven years, and the government starts paying after the seventh year over a 13-year period.

At 3.25% interest per annum, the interest servicing bill for the project is huge.

“Hence the main challenge to this project will be to bring down cost as low as possible. The lower the cost, the lesser it would be the burden on the government’s balance sheet,” says an industry player.

Echoing a similar view, Lee noted the ERCL project loan is expected to be treated as “contingent liability” as it will be taken by Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, a special purpose vehicle owned by the Ministry of Finance.

This is also to ensure that the Federal Government will not breach the self-imposed debt to GDP ratio of 55%.

As at end-March 2017, the Federal Government’s debt stood at RM664.5bil or 50.2% of GDP.

At the end of the day, despite the concerns on the possible cost overrun in the ECRL project, proper management and efficiency in project delivery could lead to cost savings and ultimately lower overall expenditure for ECRL.

History has shown that Malaysian companies can lower the cost, especially on rail projects compared to foreign players.

In the late 1990s, a consortium of India and China state-owned companies were awarded the contract to build a double track electrified railway system from Padang Besar to Johor Baru. The cost was estimated at RM44bil and paid through crude palm oil.

However, an MMC Corp Bhd-Gamuda Bhd joint venture managed to win the job in 2003 with a RM14.3bil proposal. However this project was shelved and subsequently continued after a lull of few years.

ECRL is a seven year project to be built in stages. Many factors can come into play in that period like delay in construction and rise in material costs.

However in the bigger picture, the infrastructure venture should not merely be seen from a commercial-viable lens alone. The trickle-down benefits on the economy and the Malaysian population should also be factored into the calculations.

The lower the cost, the higher the multiplier effect.

Source: The Star by ganeshwaran kanaandgurmeet kaur

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Wall and awning collapsed in house near construction site


Brought down: A view of the fallen backyard wall and awning of the house.

 

Penang MCA: Guan Eng must explain cause of incident in house near construction site

GEORGE TOWN: Penang MCA is seeking an explanation from Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on the collapse of a perimeter wall and an awning of a house in Jalan Bagan Baru 1, Butterworth.

Its organising secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong said the house owner believed the collapse could be due to nearby construction carried out by Penang Development Corpora-tion (PDC), of which Lim is the chairman.

The area is also under the Bagan parliamentary seat which Lim is the MP.

Dr Tan said the house owner had earlier complained to PDC after seeing cracks on the wall at his backyard about one year ago.

He said PDC was carrying out piling works then for its two affordable housing projects.

“Luckily, nobody was hurt in the incident but the authorities came forward only after the wall fell,” he said when contacted yesterday.

“That is against their ‘competency, accountability and transparency’ policy.”

Dr Tan urged the state to conduct a safety review on the projects.

When contacted, Sungai Puyu assemblyman Phee Boon Poh said the awning and wall collapsed due to soil movement during the construction of a drain at the projects.

He said that after being told of the incident, he went for a site inspection with Seberang Prai Municipal Council president Rozali Mohamud, representatives from PDC and the contractor.

“I told the house owner that the state would take full responsibility.He will be fully compensated and repairs will be done soon.”

He added that the council issued a stop-work order for the drain construction pending investigation.

“Our geo-technical expert will do a soil test while PDC and council safety officers will investigate the incident,” he said.

Source: The Star  by Crystal Chiam Shiying

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Leaving a legacy by buying a house first before a luxury car …


 

DURING big festive celebrations such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali and the recently celebrated Chinese New Year, it is common to see families with a few generations gathered together.

Our grandparents, parents, uncles and aunties would talk about the legacies left by our ancestors, and the stories often attract a lot of attention whether from the young or old.

Perhaps, the topic of leaving a legacy is something worth sharing as we embark on a brand new year.

For years, I have been touched by the catchy tagline of a renowned Swiss watch advertisement, “You never actually own a (the watch brand), you merely look after it for the next generation”.

While most of us can relate to the thought, not all of us can indulge in such luxurious watches or be interested in buying one. However, at some point in time, we may be looking at buying a property to pass down to our younger generations.

Whenever the topic of leaving a legacy is brought up, I would recall the lesson that I learnt from my late father. My father embarked on a long journey from China to Malaysia at the age of 16. With years of hard work and frugality at his peak, he managed to own a bus company, the Kuala Selangor Omnibus Co.

Other than his bus transport business, he only invested in his children’s education and real estate. He financed seven of his eight sons to have an overseas university education, and when he passed away, he also left four small plots of land in Klang and a company which had 34 buses.

As I look back now, what my late father invested in unintentionally was very beneficial to me when I came back from my studies as an architect. With the land he handed down and the knowledge he equipped me with, I intuitionally got myself involved in small real estate development, and later founded my property development company, Sunrise, in 1968.

Many people have thought of leaving a legacy. The crucial questions often asked are, when should we start planning for it, and how should we go about it?

For financial planning and investment, I always believe that the earlier we start, the better off we are. The same goes to leaving a legacy.

If you plan to buy a property, it is advisable to start earlier as it is more affordable to buy it now as compared to 10 or 20 years down the line especially with rising costs and inflation in mind. You can start with what you can afford first and focus on long-term investment.

It is proven that property prices appreciate over a period of time, especially when we plan to hand over assets to the next generation that easily involves a 20- to 30-year timeline.

As a developing nation which enjoys high growth rate, Malaysia’s property values will also appreciate in tandem with the economic growth in the long run.

Nowadays, we often hear youngsters comment on the challenges of owning a house due to the rising cost of living. I believe that besides starting with what you can afford, it is also important to plan your financial position wisely and to differentiate between investment and spending.

Investing in properties, commodities, shares, etc. is also a form of savings which can help to grow your wealth and to leave a legacy. On the other hand, money spent on luxury items may depreciate over time from the day you buy them. If we can prioritise investment over expenditure, it is easier and faster to achieve our financial goals.

So, if you haven’t already started to plan, do consider leaving a legacy by buying a house first before a luxury car, branded bags or expensive gadgets, as the latter are considered ‘luxury’, not necessity.

Even if you may not have a spouse or children at this point in time, it’s better to start now than later, as our financial commitments tend to grow bigger as we progress into the next stages of our lives.

Most of us hope our lives matter in some way that can make an impact on our loved ones. The idea of leaving a legacy can take many forms, such as equipping the younger generations with knowledge and values, or leaving them fond memories.

Those are all important to work on and they leave a footprint to those lives you touch. If you are also planning to hand over physical gifts, always remember to start earlier with what you can afford, and focus on long term investment.

By Food for Thought Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the world president of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

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Penang construction industry in 2016 to stay flat


It is expected to generate RM6.8bil in jobs in 2015

GEORGE TOWN: Penang’s construction industry is expected to stay flat this year with a value of about RM6.8bil, which is almost the same in 2014.

“The RM6.8bil mark is one of the highest in the history of the construction industry in Penang.

“Due to the economic slowdown, it will be difficult to surpass this figure,” said Penang Master Builders and Building Materials Dealers Association president Datuk Lim Kai Seng.

Lim said the bulk of the projects were hotel and mixed development schemes.

PMBBMDA president Datuk Lim Kai Seng: ‘Due to the economic slowdown, it will be difficult to surpass this figure (RM6.8bil).’

“For the first six months of this year, the value of jobs given out reached RM2.68bil for 171 contracts.

“Of that total, some 153 are from the private sector while the remainder are government contracts,” he added.

The value of contracts from the private sector is around RM2.47bil, while government contracts total RM214mil.

The business contracts generated in 2014 was revised to RM6.8bil from RM4.8bil announced previously, after taking into consideration projects tendered out in late 2014.

Lim said that the association was confident that there were at least over RM4bil contracts given out in Penang in the second half of 2015.

These contracts, he said, were for mainly new hotels and mixed integrated developments.

Some of the big projects are from IJM Land Bhd with a gross development value (GDV) of RM486mil, Eco World Development Group Bhd (GDV: RM600mil), Mah Sing Group Bhd (GDV: RM1.005bil), Sunway Bhd (GDV: RM150mil), Ivory Properties Group Bhd (GDV: RM1.156bil) and Ideal Property Group (GDV: RM1.8bil).

Lim pointed out that the construction cost for the projects would come up to about 40% or about RM2bil of the total RM5bil GDV.

“The renovation will cost about 30% or RM600mil of the RM2bil spending for construction works.

“We can expect spending of over RM800mil for construction and renovation works annually for the next three years from these projects alone,” he added.

Lim said the new shopping malls being planned now would also generate about RM3.5bil worth of jobs for the local construction industry over the next five years.

“This means that there will be about RM800mil to RM1bil worth of construction jobs given out in Penang per annum starting from next year,” he said.

These shopping malls include Penang Times Square Phase 3 which will have a net lettable area (NLA) of 230,000 sq ft, City Mall Bayan City (300,000 sq ft), Southbay Plaza (424,000 sq ft), Penang World City (1 million sq ft), Sunshine Tower (2 million sq ft), The Light Waterfront Mall (1 million sq ft), Mall@Southbay City (750,000 sq ft), The Designer Village (400,000 sq ft), Ikea & Ikano Power Centre (NLA not available), and a mall project by Belleview Goup (1.5 million sq ft).

By David Tan The Star

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Developers shift focus to higher-priced residential properties in Penang; Busy in construction sector 2016



Projects worth RM41bil in Penang next year

 
Chan: ‘We still foresee the volume and value transactions of properties to contract in 2016. However, the contraction this time won’t be so sharp.” (Default Alternate Text: “Chan: ‘We still foresee the volume and value transactions of properties to contract in 2016. However, the contraction this time won’t be so sharp.

GEORGE TOWN: Five developers will undertake RM4.33bil in property projects in Penang next year despite a challenging year for the property market.

The developers planned to price their mostly residential properties from between RM480,000 and RM3.3mil.

The price range came on the heels of this year’s launches of between RM200,000 and RM400,000 in strategic locations.

The developers would be shifting their focus to higher-priced residential properties.The condominium units in Bayan Lepas will be from 1,000 sq ft and priced from RM480,000 while three-storey houses with built-up of 5,300 sq ft will be priced at RM3.3mil in Seri Tanjung Pinang.

The developers are IJM Land Bhd with gross development value (GDV) of RM415mil, Ideal Property Group (RM1.46bil GDV), Hunza Properties Bhd (RM600mil GDV), Eastern & Oriental Bhd (RM650mil GDV) and Mah Sing Group Bhd (RM1.2bil GDV).

Real Estate & Housing Developers’ Association (Penang) chairman Datuk Jerry Chan told StarBiz that developers could be shifting their focus to properties priced from RM400,000 as there was a large supply of housing priced between RM200,000 and RM400,000 targeting first-time buyers.

This did not mean that buyers have lost interest in affordable housing with built-up of 900 sq ft and priced from RM500 to RM600 per sq ft.

Chan pointed out that developers would continue to build housing in the affordable range to leverage on the higher density for plots of land but there would be a gradual shift to the “non-affordable” range.

He added that there would be fewer launches in 2016, due to the difficulties in obtaining bridging and end-financing loans from banks.

Referring to the incoming supply of housing that were currently under construction, Chan said this would be spread over a five- to 10-year period, depending on market demand and the size of the schemes.

The National Information Property Centre (Napic) report revealed that the state would see an incoming supply of 72,114 units into the market.

According to the Napic report, the existing stock of houses in the state stood at 393,303, compared with 383,484 in the first half of 2014.

“We still foresee the volume and value transactions of properties to contract in 2016. However, the contraction this time won’t be so sharp,” Chan said.

Ideal executive chairman Datuk Alex Ooi said the group had developed 4,840 units of affordable projects on the island for the last two years.

“We have sold about 60% of these properties. Moving ahead, the strategy is to move into the non-affordable range priced between RM400,000 and RM600,000.

“Ideal Property still has around 300 acres of land bank on the island. We have some 25,000 units of properties planned for the land bank.

“There are still 8,000 units of properties with more than RM4bil in GDV to be implemented over the next 10 years, priced between RM400,000 and RM600,000,” Ooi said.

‘Moderate to flat’ outlook

Ooi expected property market conditions to be “moderate” to “flat” in the coming year.

Mah Sing (North) senior general manager Law Wei Keong said the company had recently completed a survey on the preference of housing products in the country.

“The study revealed that a majority of the 6,000 surveyed favoured houses priced in the range of RM500,000 to RM700,000,” he said.

Of the RM2bil worth of housing projects launched in the country this year, about 16% were priced from RM1mil, while the remaining 84% are below RM1mil, according to Law.

IJM Land senior general manager (north) Datuk Toh Chin Leong said despite the weak market sentiment, the company would continue to launch properties priced below RM800,000.

“It will be a slow year for the property market in 2016,” Toh said.

 TrehausIJM Land’s pipeline of projects for next year in Penang included the RM232mil Waterside Residence in The Light Waterfront project next to Penang Bridge, the RM64.7mil Trehaus Condo Villa scheme in Bukit Jambul, and the RM118.4mil Senjayu Terrace project in Jawi, South Seberang Prai.

The Trehaus and the Waterside Residences scheme would be launched in the second quarter of 2016, while the Senjayu Terrace would be introduced in late 2016.

“The price of the three property schemes ranged between RM730,000 and RM1.3mil,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ideal would be launching the RM460mil Forestville, RM600mil Queens Waterfront Residences, and RM400mil Camerlina, located in Bayan Lepas, priced between RM480,000 and RM800,000.

“There is still growing need for mid-range houses that is reasonably priced, located within mature township, surrounded and supported by amenities such as schools with good accessibility, lower density with lifestyle concept,” he said.

Eastern & Oriental will develop the recently launched RM482mil Tamarind and 50 units of terraced houses with a RM168mil GDV in Seri Tanjung Pinang.

The Tamarind units, ranging between 1,000 sq ft and 1,770 sq ft, are priced around RM691,000 and RM1.16mil, while the terraced units, with built-up areas of 5,300 sq ft, are priced from RM3.3mil.

Its general manager (marketing and sales) Christina Lau said the Tamarind was scheduled for completion in 2019.

No date has been set for the completion of the 50-terraced properties.

Mah Sing to unveil Ferringhi Residence 2

Mah Sing will launch the RM735mil Ferringhi Residence 2, the RM350mil Icon Residence and an unnamed RM150mil project in Southbay City, Batu Maung.

“We are targeting the Ferringhi Residence 2 launch in the first quarter,” Law said.

The Ferringhi Residence 2 consists of three blocks offering 632 units with built-up areas from 1,208 sq ft to 2,910 sq ft, priced from RM775,265.

Law said the pricing for the unnamed project would be below RM680 per sq ft.

“The units have built-up areas of 750 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hunza will develop the RM600mil Alila 2 project in Tanjung Bungah, 270 units which have built up of between 1,900 sq ft and 3,300 sq ft, priced from RM775 per sq ft.

“We will promote the 9.8acre project in Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Singapore early next year.

“The key attractions are the size of the units, which are extremely scarce on the island nowadays,” group managing director Khor Siang Gin said.

By David Tan The Star

Construction sector to be busy in 2016 with projects worth RM83bil 

KUALA LUMPUR: WITH over RM83bil worth of infrastructure jobs to be awarded next year, it is going to be a busy year for the construction sector in 2016.

“The 11th Malaysia Plan unveiled in May 2015 has reaffirmed the strong pipeline of construction jobs till 2020. The record awards of project delivery partners (PDPs) for four major infrastructure projects with total value of RM80bil have further reiterated the potential works,” said Maybank IB Research in a recent strategy report. This flow of contracts if they are rolled out according to plan, is a new record, outpacing the high of RM28bil dished out in 2012.

The strong job flows are expected to be driven from new tenders in public transport, oil & gas downstream infrastructure and water-related jobs.

New award phase for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Line 2, is set to take off from the first half of next year while the other rail project coming on strean is the Klang Valley Light Railway Transit (KVLRT) 3. The Gemas-JB double track, which is being reviewed, is another potential.

The total value of rail-related construction jobs was estimated at RM39bil in the medium term, said CIMB Research. “These could be broken into 17-20 chunky packages worth between RM800mil and RM1.5bil each, excluding underground portions,” the research firm said in its recent outlook report.

As for highways, there are the RM4.2bil Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH), the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE), and the remaining West Coast Expressway (WCE) packages to be awarded. In East Malaysia, eleven more packages of the 1,090km Pan-Borneo Highway is expected to be tendered out in phases next year.

As for oil and gas infrastructure, Petronas’ Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Pengerang, Johor, is expected to see investments worth RM18bil based on Budget 2016.

On water-type contracts, CIMB Research reckoned that over RM2bil worth of jobs could be dished out and this excludes potential jobs from the private sector side.

The country’s strengthened ties with China have also injected further optimism into the construction sector.

“Chinese contractors have expressed interest in the rail projects, specifically, the Gemas-JB double track rail and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail. Local contractors could partner them in bidding for the projects. With the Chinese companies’ ability to offer attractive financing packages, this would raise their chances of winning the projects, while allaying concerns on project funding issue,” said Maybank Research.

One other key project to watch for is the Penang Transportation Master Plan (PTMP) that is said to have contract value of RM27bil.

As for stock picks, Maybank IB Research has Gamuda Bhd at its top pick. The stock was a likely beneficiary of the PTMP and could also clinch additional jobs from the mega rail projects including KVLRT 3 and Gemas-JB double track rail, the research firm said.

CIMB Research also has Gamuda as its big-cap pick for the largest exposure to MRT 2. Among small/mid-cap it has Muhibbah Engineering Bhd as the preferred stock for the company’s US-dollar theme and exposure to Petronas’ Rapid.

“In the water segment, Salcon Bhd could emerge with a bigger share of wins. The company’s tender book currently stood at RM1bil to RM2bil,” said CIMB Research.

On the other hand, Public Invest Research has a neutral “call” on the sector as “most of the counters under our coverage were already fairly valued.”

“Currently, the construction index is priced at 13 times one-year forward earnings, which is also equal to its long-term mean. Hence, we believe the sector is fully valued for now, with most positives already priced in.”

As for stock picks, the research firm favours WCT Holdings Bhd as its job replenishment was better than expected with RM2.7bil clinched to-date, bumping up its unbilled orderbook to more than RM5bil.

“Hock Seng Lee Bhd is expected to benefit from the Pan Borneo project, while Gamuda also looks attractive after the stock dipped below our fair value.”

By Gurmeet Kaur The Star

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