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MKH soars to 15-year high after selling non-halal unit

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 3): Shares in MKH Bhd climbed to their highest in 15 years in active trading as the company attracts fresh interests from institutional investors after having sold its non-halal livestock farming business last month.

Formerly known as Metro Kajang Holdings Bhd, MKH closed three sen higher at RM1.89 on Thursday, giving it a market capitalisation of RM500.1 million, the highest since October 1997.

The counter has gained about 16.7% since it announced on Dec 29, 2011 the sale of its pig farm and pork retailing business to Thailand's agricultural giant Charoen Pokphand Foods Pcl for RM64 million. The sale was completed on Jan 16.

MKH's non-halal livestock farming business comprised Makin Jernih Sdn Bhd (MJSB) and its subsidiaries — Chau Yang Farming Sdn Bhd, Tip Top Meat Sdn Bhd and AA Meat Shop Sdn Bhd.

Fund managers said MKH's disposal of its non-halal livestock farming business was beginning to attract institutional investors that seek syariah-compliant stocks as well as government-linked funds such as Employees Provident Fund, Lembaga Tabung Haji and Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB).

"MKH can be exciting. It still has close to 242.8ha of landbank in Kajang/Semenyih that are carried at less than RM10 per square foot, and have mostly converted for development purposes. Its 16,000ha plantation operations in Indonesia also look promising," said a fund manager.

The Edge weekly reported last month that MKH's main rationale for exiting its non-halal business, which it ventured into in 2006, was to focus on its core business in property development and oil palm plantation in Indonesia, which is set to become a major earnings contributor to the group in the next five years.

MKH had also said it hoped to get on the radar of analysts and the syariah or government-linked funds after the disposal.

For FY11 ended Sept 30, 2011, MKH posted a net profit of RM38.36 million on the back of RM342.35 million in revenue.

While the group's total net borrowings of RM315 million as at Sept 30 translated into a net gearing of 42.9% against shareholders' funds of RM734.21 million, the ratio is set to reduce with the RM64 million proceeds from the disposal. MKH's net assets per share was at RM2.77.

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