Virus outbreak leads investors to gloves, pharma and hospitals

Local glove makers’ shares rise as investors bet on higher demand for rubber glove products from across
the region

by PRIYA VASU / pic by AFP

THE Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)-like virus outbreak across Asia is driving investors’ interest in healthcare-based counters, especially export-based glove makers, as the epidemic has so far killed four out of 200 transmitted cases.

The world’s largest rubber glove manufacturer — Top Glove Corp Bhd’s shares rose 6.2% or 29 sen, the most in 18 months, to RM5.11.

Similarly, Kossan Rubber Industries Bhd, Hartalega Holdings Bhd and Supermax Corp Bhd also gained as investors bet on higher demand for rubber glove products from across the region to prevent cross-contamination between virus carriers and caregivers.

Kossan’s shares advanced 5.7% or 24 sen to RM4.47, while Hartalega’s share was the highest in eight months at RM5.80, up 25 sen or 4.5%. Supermax jumped 10.7% or 14 sen to RM1.44.

Shares of Malaysian pharmaceutical company, Pharmaniaga Bhd, which makes generic versions of influenza antiviral drugs, remained unchanged at RM2.07 and Duopharma Biotech Bhd, which develops, manufactures and markets generic and branded pharmaceutical products, surged by 5% to RM1.68.

Malaysian health authorities said on Monday the response teams at all international entry points and health facilities are on red alert following the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said there has been no coronavirus cases detected in Malaysia yet.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed that Japan and Thailand reported an imported case of laboratory

confirmed novel coronavirus. It also released travel advisory for international travellers.

According to the WHO, although there are no cases recorded outside Wuhan city, but risk still persists owing to Wuhan is a major domestic and international transport hub.

Heavy population movement is expected to significantly increase during the Chinese New Year in the last week of January, the risk of cases being reported from elsewhere is increased.

Shares of Malaysian aviation industry, and travel, leisure and hospitality sank on the possibility people scaling back their travel plans.

AirAsia Group Bhd’s share was flat at RM1.63, while Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd fell 0.3% or two sen to RM6.99, indicating possible reduced traveller traffic to avoid general risk of respiratory infection.

YTL Corp Bhd, which operates luxury hotels, closed unchanged at RM0.99, while theme park and hotel operator Genting Malaysia Bhd’s share price fell 1.8% to RM3.30. Shangri-La Hotels (M) Bhd, however, surged 1.2% to RM4.89.

The WHO convene an emergency meeting in Geneva today to determine if the contagious virus between humans is “a public health emergency of international concern”.