PTTAR shuts unit
CHEMICALS :PTT Aromatics & Refining Plc, the country's second-biggest petrochemical maker, shut one of its two crude oil refining units yesterday to fix a heat exchanger.
"It will take at least four days to fix the problem," said Nidcha Jirametthanakij, vice-president for financial planning. The heat exchanger is a device that keeps the crude distillation unit from overheating.
PTTAR owns half of the closed Rayong plant, which has a capacity of 145,000 barrels a day. The unscheduled shutdown may add pressure on earnings this year, as gains from refining crude may decline.
The company's refining business has a "dull" outlook for the second half because more competitors are expected to enter the market, Bualuang Securities said in a recent research note.
PTTAR's gross refining margin dropped 31% to $4.94 a barrel in the second quarter from a year earlier. Its bigger rival Thai Oil Plc had a margin of $9.60 a barrel, up 22% during the same period.
PTTAR shares closed yesterday on the SET at 22.20 baht, down 30 satang, in trade worth 163 million baht.
TTW rated AA-
FINANCE :Tris Rating has assigned a company rating of AA- with a stable outlook to Thai Tap Water Supply.
The rating reflects TTW's position as the largest private tap water provider in Thailand, stable cash flow from long-term contracts, favourable growth prospects for the business, and low operating risk. The rating also takes into consideration the company's capable management team and a high barrier to entry.
Strengths are partially offset by a moderate debt burden to fund initial investment in a water treatment plant and distribution network, cash flow totally depending on the Provincial Waterworks Authority (PWA) and the pending Waterworks Act.
TTW shares closed yesterday on the SET at 4.88 baht, down two satang, in trade worth 57.18 million baht.
Milk outlook steady
CONSUMER GOODS :Thailand's powdered milk market worth eight billion baht is expected to grow by 4-5% this year, on par with last year, partly from higher product prices, according to Nestle' (Thai) Co, the producer of Bear powdered milk.
The company expects its sales of Bear powdered milk to grow in line with the market as powdered milk remains a necessity for children despite a poor economy. Bear leads the market with a 25% share, followed by Carnation, according to AC Neilsen (Thailand) Research.
Roland Stieger, executive director for dairy and creamers at Nestle', said the company hoped it could increase Bear's share to 30% next year. It plans to add more variety to maintain loyalty of its customers. Bear powdered-milk prices would remain unchanged despite higher raw material costs.
Nestle' (Thai) yesterday began a four-month, 100-million-baht campaign to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Bear in Thailand.
AUTOMOBILES :Thailand's biggest industrial gas supplier, Bangkok Industrial Gas Ltd (BIG), has signed an agreement to be the exclusive supplier of hydrogen for the Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell vehicle.
"It won't be too long before hydrogen-powered vehicles become the norm," said Steve Carlisle, president of General Motors Southeast Asia and Chevrolet Sales Thailand.
Piyabut Charuphen, BIG's managing director, said he believed hydrogen-powered vehicles, with no damaging emissions, were the technology of the future and the ideal solution to escalating oil prices.
BIG's parent, Air Products and Chemicals Inc, is already working with GM to develop hydrogen in other markets around the world.
14-day yield 3.6%
DEBT MARKET :The Bank of Thailand yesterday sold 70 billion baht worth of 14-day bills for and average yield of 3.58198% with bid coverage of 1.37 times.
Reserves off $700m
FINANCIAL DATA :International reserves totalled $102.4 billion as of Aug 15, compared with $103.1 billion the week before, the Bank of Thailand said yesterday.
The net forward position was $15.9 billion as of Aug 15, compared with $16.3 billion the week before. Net claims on government were 92.1 billion baht, compared with 109.2 billion. Net policy credits were -1,979.6 billion baht, compared with -1,980 billion. Reserve money was 873.1 billion baht, compared with 878.5 billion the week before.