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Thai Amata says unrest hurting industrial land sales

BANGKOK: Amata Corp, Thailand's biggest seller of industrial land, said some Japanese clients had delayed signing land deals because of political unrest.

Bloody street clashes on April 10 left 25 people dead. Further trouble is in prospect after "red shirt" protesters threatened to march into a business district and troops were deployed in the area to stop them on Monday (April 19).

Amata may cut its land sales target for 2010 due to the impact of the unrest on investor confidence and the economy, chief financial officer Viboon Kromadit told Reuters.

"Japanese investors are our main customers," Viboon said. "We may revise down our land sales target if the crisis is prolonged and leads to more violence."

Amata, a bellwether for foreign investor sentiment towards Thailand, has said it aimed to sell at least 896 rais (145 hectares) of land this year, versus 250 rais in 2009, when its business was hit by the global financial crisis.

Nine analysts polled by earnings tracker I/B/E/S expected average 2010 revenue of 2.7 billion baht (RM271 million), up nearly 30% from 2009.

Amata operates two industrial estimates -- Amata Nakorn in the eastern city of Chonburi and Amata City in the eastern province of Rayong. Japanese car makers are among its biggest clients.

For 1Q, the company was expected to achieve its land sales target of 175 rais, close to the fourth quarter of 2009, Viboon said, adding it was too soon to say if the political unrest would cut into 2Q sales.

Land sales account for about 70% of the company's revenue, with the rest coming from services, including providing water and electricity to the industrial estates.

At the midsession break, Amata shares were down 8.7% at 6.30 baht, underperforming a 1.7% drop in the main market. The stock hit an eight-month low of 6.15 baht earlier.

Over the past year, the stock has more than doubled on expectations the company would benefit from a better investment climate as a result of the economic recovery. – Reuters

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