KUALA LUMPUR: More positive signs of recovery, though at a slow pace, in the US economy could provide an impetus for investors to pick up equities in the regional markets including Bursa Malaysia on Wednesday, Sept 16.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 56.61 points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 9,683.41. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 3.29 points, or 0.31 percent, to 1,052.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 10.86 points, or 0.52 percent, to 2,102.64.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke declared the worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression was probably over, but the recovery would be slow and it would take time to create new jobs.

At Bursa Malaysia, agrochemicals specialist Halex Holdings Bhd will make its debut on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia.

Other stocks to watch are PROTON HOLDINGS BHD [], Multi Purpose Holdings Bhd (MPHB, AIRASIA BHD [],  MUDAJAYA GROUP BHD [], POS MALAYSIA BHD [] and PETRA ENERGY BHD [].

HwangDBS Vickers Research values the stock at 91 sen based on 7.5 times price-earnings multiple on Halex's calender year 2010 earnings, while OSK Equity Research said its issue price of 78 sen per share was reasonable based on a FY09 PE of 8.3 times, which is lower than that of its peers.

The company is principally involved in the manufacturing, formulation, repackaging, distribution and agency of agrochemicals; propagation of ornamental plants; propagation and sales of foliage cuttings, potted and festive plants; and manufacturing and distribution of healthcare disposable products.

Halex is the sole distributor in Malaysia for several agrochemical products developed by MNCs such as Chemtura Corp, AMVAC Chemical Corp and Sumitomo Chemical.

Proton Holdings Bhd's counter continues to deserve careful scrutiny on market talk the government was looking to pare down its holdings in the national carmaker.

Market buzz has it that Khazanah Nasional Bhd, which owns 43% of Proton, would be willing to let go of a stake in the share should it find a right buyer. The stock closed yesterday among the top 10 gainers, picking up 20 sen to close at RM3.91 per share.

The company's stock has surged since the first week of this month on the back of better-than-expected earnings results following healthy sales of its Exora marque.

Analysts are mostly bullish on the stock with eight out of 13 research houses recommending a buy on the stock. The price of Proton's share has already exceeded Bloomberg consensus target fair price of RM3.77 per share.

MPHB has proposed to buy a 41.63% stake in U Mobile Sdn Bhd -- which had been pledged with AmBank Bhd -- for RM280 million under a put option.

MPHB had entered into a put option agreement with AmBank to purchase the option shares, comprising of 157.95 million shares of RM1 each, at any time during a 13-month period.

The audited net assets of U Mobile as at Dec 31, 2008 was about RM1.44 per share. MPHB said the put option price would be financed by its own funds and/or borrowings.

AirAsia completed its bookbuilding exercise which involved the offer for sale of 380 million new shares, representing 16% of the paid-up as at Sept 10.

The issue price was fixed at RM1.33 per placement share, which was a discount of 6.71% to the five-day volume weighted average market price of AirAsia shares up to and including Sept 14 of RM1.4257 per AirAsia share.


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