WEIGHED down by a spate of disappointing results, the Straits Times Index (STI) yesterday dropped 27.25 points to 2,968.34 in a second day of weakness, following a rally since the start of the year that saw it gain 375 points or 14 per cent.
The broad market was similarly weak with 111 rises versus 345 falls excluding warrants, as traders who had previously bought in anticipation of a successful second Greek bailout sold either because the deal appears to have been sealed or because of doubts over how robust it would prove to be in reviving Greece's fortunes.
Turnover excluding foreign currency units was 2.4 billion units worth $2 billion, compared to Wednesday's 2.3 billion units worth $2.1 billion.
The general feeling among brokers was that traders were selling because the Greek bailout play, which started at the end of 2011, had probably run its course. Also a factor were disappointing earnings by a handful of key stocks.
Genting Singapore, for example, dropped 5 cents to $1.615 with 218 million shares traded following the release of its results - a Q4 net profit of $262 million and a dividend of one cent per share.
The response from analysts was neutral to negative. Deutsche Bank said that in line with its slower 2012-13 estimated gaming market growth projection of 8-12 per cent, it has trimmed Genting's FY12-13 estimated net profit by 10-11 per cent, lowered its target price to $1.49, and called a 'hold' on the stock.
JP Morgan said it is 'neutral' on the stock, while Citi Investment Research said the only positive was the one-cent dividend and so called a 'sell'. It said Genting's adjusted Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) was $399 million, in line with its forecast of $402 million.
'However, if we adjust for the exceptionally high VIP hold rate of 3.9 per cent, normalised Ebitda would have been about $300 million, which would have been 25 per cent below our estimate and 30 per cent lighter than consensus.'
Genting's loss cut 3 points off the STI.
Another index stock to come under pressure following the release of disappointing results was Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) which announced a US$478 million loss for 2011. After losing 6 cents on Wednesday, NOL yesterday dropped a further 8 cents to close at $1.345 with 60 million shares traded.
Nomura called a 'reduce' on NOL, saying the stock is expensive. 'NOL is currently trading at 1.4 times 2012 forecast price/book vs the mid-cycle average of 1.0 time; hence, we believe the stock is expensive based on our 2012 forecast return on equity estimate of -18 per cent and maintain 'reduce' rating with $1.00 target price,' said Nomura.
Morgan Stanley (MS), on the other hand, called an 'overweight'. It said the consensus expectations for losses in 2012 are likely too bearish. MS expects upgrades to emerge from the second quarter and that NOL will report full-year profit of US$29 million.
Elsewhere, water treatment specialist Hyflux's shares plunged 11 cents to $1.47 on volume of 7.7 million, after it reported a 40 per cent drop in profit for 2011 to $53 million.
On Wednesday, palm oil giant Wilmar International's shares crashed by 11 per cent after the release of disappointing figures. They continued to weaken yesterday when they lost 6 cents at $5.16 with 25 million shares traded.