By Yantoultra Ngui
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia’s best-performing stock surged more than 800% in the past year by helping people lower their electricity bills.
Shares of Kejuruteraan Asastera Bhd., or KAB, have gained 108% to 80 sen just this year, after it started offering energy-saving services to hotels and offices in 2019. That helped its order book to reach 355 million ringgit ($82 million), enough to support its revenue for 2.2 years, said Lai Keng Onn, founder and managing director.
Malaysia has imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, leading to disruptions for manufacturers such as glovemakers and breweries. KAB isn’t exempted, so its operations have stopped. Still, Lai sees increasing demand for KAB’s services as the economic impact of the pandemic spurs companies to cut costs including on electricity bills.
The company uses a combination of software and machine learning as well as a physical review of buildings to find ways to reduce energy use, such as by ensuring cool air doesn’t escape or by installing solar panels. In some cases, KAB will pay for the upgrades and split the savings with its clients over an agreed number of years.
“We see this as an opportunity to market our energy efficiency solutions to the hospitality industry,” Lai said in an interview. “Although a possible slight delay can be expected in some of our projects,” due to the lockdown, he added.
TA Securities maintains a sell rating on the stock due to its “rich valuation” and sets its target price at 22 sen based on an 11.1 million ringgit net income forecast this year. KAB’s profit rose 23% to 10.5 million ringgit in 2019, with Lai expecting “double-digit” earnings growth to continue this year.
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