July 25, 2012 / 5:50 AM / 5 years ago

STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Citi upgrades NOL to buy from sell

Citi upgraded container shipping firm Neptune Orient Lines to 'buy' from 'sell' and raised its target price to S$1.35 from S$1.05, saying the company's improved strategy may bring it back to profitability this year.

By 0535 GMT, NOL shares were flat at S$1.07, having dropped 4.9 percent so far this year, compared to the Straits Times Index's 12.7 percent gain.

NOL's earnings in the second half of the year and in 2013 may hold firm due to its high exposure to the relatively stable Transpacific trade.

Deliveries of lower-cost new ships could also mitigate an expected decline in freight rates, Citi said.

"The market may have over-looked progress in NOL's improved strategy, due to lack of clear data points. However, this may eventually be reflected in a doubling of profits and return on equity in 2013," the brokerage said.

1337 (0537 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore; charmian.kok@thomsonreuters.com)

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1:17 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Shares slip, IHH up in heavy trading

Singapore shares slipped by midday, weighed by losses in commodity firms such as Wilmar International Ltd, as soaring borrowing costs fanned worries that Spain may need a bailout.

By 0500 GMT, the benchmark Straits Times Index fell 0.3 percent to 2,988.55 points, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped 1.1 percent to a one-month low.

Commodity companies were among the biggest losers on the key index in Singapore, due to concerns the euro zone's worsening debt crisis could drag on the global economy. Noble Group fell 1.4 percent to S$1.03 and palm oil firm Wilmar lost 1.1 percent at S$3.55.

Asia's largest hospital operator IHH Healthcare Bhd shares were traded at S$1.22 in heavy volume on its market debut, 10.5 percent above its initial public offering price of S$1.113, indicating strong interest in the healthcare sector.

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1308 (0508 GMT)

(Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore; charmian.kok@thomsonreuters.com)

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STOC KS NEWS SINGAPORE-CIMB downgrades Mapletree Industrial

CIMB Research downgraded Mapletree Industrial Trust , which owns factories and other industrial assets, to 'neutral' from 'outperform', citing limited upside and lower distribution per unit estimates, but raised its target price as it applied a lower discount rate.

The brokerage raised its target price on the stock to S$1.31 from S$1.24.

By 0210 GMT, units of Mapletree Industrial were up 0.8 percent at S$1.245. They have risen 16 percent so far this year, compared with the FT ST Real Estate Investment Trust's 21 percent rise.

Mapletree Industrial said its distribution per unit for April-June rose 14 percent to 2.26 Singapore cents, in line with CIMB's estimates.

Mapletree's current valuation at 1.2 times price-to-book value has priced in growth potential as organic growth is expected to moderate, with more resistance to rental increases likely in the current climate, CIMB said.

Higher asset leverage could also limit inorganic growth through debt-funding, the brokerage added.

To read a statement, click

1017 (0217 GMT) (Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore; charmian.kok@thomsonreuters.com)

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