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GTI price resilient over strikes

Garment workers sew clothes at Taiwanese garment manufacturer
Garment workers sew clothes at Taiwanese garment manufacturer Grand Twins International in Phnom Penh. Vireak Mai

GTI price resilient over strikes

It's been a testing month for Taiwanese garment manufacturer Grand Twins International (GTI), with recurring worker demonstrations and a new sector-wide minimum-wage level set just this week.

But despite the turbulence, GTI stock – one of just two companies trading on the Cambodian Stock Exchange (CSX) – has proved to be more durable than analysts initially anticipated.

Since October 20, GTI garment workers have conducted rolling demonstrations calling for increased benefits including $1.25 per day for lunch and $15 per month for travel and accommodation. The factory’s management said the strikes were the first in the company’s 18-year history.

Employees resumed work officially on November 11, according to David Liu, GTI’s strategy manager.

A day later, on November 12, labour unions and the Ministry of Labour concluded that Cambodia’s minimum wage would be increased from the current $100 per month, to $128 from January 1, 2015.

“We just settled down the strike issue after reaching an agreement with the labour bureau,” Liu told the Post.

“But we cannot comment on the minimum-wage increase, because we only learned of the decision yesterday. We will have an internal discussion about it,” he added, declining to detail how the wage increase could affect the company’s operational costs and end-of-year revenue projections.

Between October 20 and November 12, GTI’s share price weakened slightly, falling from $2.06 per share to $1.96.

However the decline in investor sentiment was to be expected, according to CSX director of market operations, Soleil Lamun.

“Normally, this kind of issue affects the investors’ sentiment, and it seemed true for GTI’s case,” Lamun told the Post via email this week.

“But the price dropped only a few hundreds riels.… This kind of issue is not something surprising if you are a GTI investor, since the same and even bigger issue already happened just before GTI’s share issuance,” he added, referring to garment industry demonstrations, which brought the industry to a standstill in January this year.

“So I believe that most investors had already taken it into account. The longer the issue persists, the more investor sentiment is affected.”

Lamun commended GTI on its quick resolution of the demonstrations.

Skepticism over the stability and longevity of GTI stock amid such industry-wide reforms was a key criticism prior to the company’s June 16 IPO.

Stanley Shen, assistant to GTI’s chief financial officer even told the Post back in June that potential investors had repeatedly voiced concerns over the share offering so soon after the January strikes and while negotiations over the Kingdom’s minimum wage continued.

Now, six months after GTI became the CSX’s second listing, the company’s stock has declined an overall 17 per cent from its opening price of $2.41.

Despite the weakening, Svay Hay, CEO of Acleda Securities, said investors are holding out for the company’s first dividend announcement, due out early next year.

“The strike was really a short-term event, and it certainly has not impacted or influenced medium- or long-term investor sentiment,” Hay told the Post. “But, to be sure, it does affect the short-term traders,” Hay explained, citing an average of just 10 trade requests per day to the CSX and securities firms.

Hay rejected concerns over GTI’s stock being volatile due to the company being engaged in Cambodia’s garment industry.

“More garment firms could easily be added to the market – it is good for Cambodia’s stock exchange. A company’s success does not hinge on the type of industry it is engaged in. It depends on how open they are with their financial and operational information – information that investors can base decisions on.”

Hay said that while GTI has provided some information to investors over the past six months, more regarding the company’s current financial performance and projects is needed.

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