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Friday, June 19, 2009

WCT on lookout for jobs in Mideast

SHAH ALAM: WCT Bhd has given a sombre outlook for the year as big construction jobs get harder to come by and the property market has turned softer.

Hazy order-book visibility for WCT and the construction sector as a whole, however, did not hamper the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) appetite for WCT shares.

Latest filings with Bursa Malaysia showed the pension fund now owns the single largest block of shares in WCT with a 26.3% stake. The EPF started the year holding 18.77% in the company.

“It (the EPF) had not asked for board representation,” chairman Datuk Ahmad Sufian Abdul Rashid told a press conference after the group’s AGM yesterday.

WCT’s share price took a beating in January and drifted below RM1 by early March on a massive sell-off following the termination of a contract at an on-going project to build a race cource in Dubai.

The case is currently under arbitration.

Despite the setback, deputy managing director Goh Chin Liong said the group was still actively scouting for new jobs in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, it bagged a total of RM500mil worth of new contracts in Abu Dhabi and Qatar. The contracts are additional jobs given by its existing clients.

“We are very cautious about taking on new ventures” in view of the weak global economic situation, Goh said.

WCT is targeting to achieve RM1bil worth of new order book this year, which is in line with analysts’ expectation.

As at end-March, the group’s total outstanding order book stood at RM2.9bil. This includes some RM750mil worth of internal jobs such as The Paradigm commercial development project in Kelana Jaya, Selangor.

Several brokerages, including Maybank Investment Bank and RHB Research, had recently linked WCT to upcoming huge infrastructure development projects in Sabah and Sarawak.

“All that we can say is that we are active in Sabah,” Ahmad Sufian said.

Currently, WCT is involved in ongoing works at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport and a water supply project in Kudat. In September last year, the company launched a high-end residential project called d’Banyan Residency@Sutera in Kota Kinabalu.

Consensus estimates put WCT’s current financial year ending Dec 31, 2009 (FY09) earnings per share at 17.3 sen, but falling to 15 sen per share in FY10.

WCT’s share price had doubled from its low point in March, and was up 34% year-to-date at RM2.03 yesterday.

By The Star (by Izwan Idris)

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