By Abhishek Vishnoi and Ishika Mookerjee
(Bloomberg) — Tax changes in Singapore’s budget are positive for certain retail stocks and firms that are reducing their carbon emissions, but some multinational companies, property developers and luxury vehicle stocks emerge as losers.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong unveiled a budget on Friday that seeks to rebuild Singapore’s finances and chart a post-pandemic future by raising taxes on the wealthy and on consumption. The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 0.4% lower, though in the long term analysts said the budget should offer some support.
“Singapore’s fiscally smart moves would help boost its status as a country offering stocks that give high income and dividend yields,” said Nirgunan Tiruchelvam, head of consumer sector equity research at Tellimer.
The benchmark index has risen about 10% this year, with the rotation toward value stocks helping it vie with Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index for the top spot among major global gauges.
Here are details of what analysts see as the main winners and losers from the budget:
Singapore’s move to space out the much anticipated increase in goods and services tax over two years — increasing it to 8% in 2023 and to 9% in 2024 — may be positive for consumption-linked companies. Many analysts had expected the government to raise GST, currently 7%, directly to 9%.
Potential beneficiaries are food and beverage maker Fraser and Neave Ltd., grocer Sheng Siong Group Ltd., and restaurants and food caterers such as Jumbo Group and Kimly Ltd. Casino operator Genting Singapore Ltd. and consumption-focused real estate investment trusts such as Keppel REIT may also get a lift.
Carbon Neutral Plays
Singapore plans to dramatically increase the tax it levies on greenhouse gas pollution from its biggest emitters from 2024.
The move “signals the government’s seriousness to meet its climate goals,” said Terence Chua, an analyst at Phillip Securities Research Pte. “Companies such as Sembcorp Industries and Keppel Corp. will benefit from their early push to reduce carbon emissions.” Conversely, emissions-heavy companies such as Singapore Airlines Ltd. will be affected negatively, Chua added.
Singapore’s plan to explore a top up tax for multinational enterprises may weigh on some units of Jardine Matheson Holdings group as they get a majority of their revenue from Greater China. Others that may suffer include City Developments Ltd. — which makes about 8% of its revenue from the Americas and about 10% from Europe, the Middle East and Africa — and ComfortDelGro Corp. gets about 23% from EMEA, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The move may impact some companies even as it is preliminary,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners. “The government clearly has a plan, but it’s best for investors to take a wait-and-see approach as more details will trickle out over the coming days.”
Real estate stocks took a hit from Singapore’s move to increase the minimum monthly salary for foreign workers as well as tightened rules for the number of foreign work permit holders.
Shares of City Developments, one of Singapore’s biggest developers, pared gains of as much as 1% to end the day up 0.4%. UOL Group Ltd. wiped out an advance of as much as 0.7%.
More negatives for developers were the increases in personal income tax rates on the wealthy, and higher levies on residential properties from 2023. That will likely weigh further on City Developments, which counts The Residences at W Singapore Sentosa Cove among its properties, and on other developers.
Higher taxation rates of 220% on cars, which apply for the portion of open-market value in excess of S$80,000, will affect names such as Jardine Cycle & Carriage Ltd., which owns showrooms.
And the increase in income tax rates for top earners will affect some clients of the wealth management units of DBS Group Holdings Ltd., Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. and United Overseas Bank Ltd.
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