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PETALING JAYA: Crude palm oil (CPO) prices could moderate further in the second half of this year (2H22), despite improving fundamentals.
While plantation stocks’ valuations are starting to look more appealing, RHB Research noted in a report yesterday that CPO prices have “fallen with a vengeance”.
It said CPO prices have fallen by more than 30% in the last three weeks, owing to the lifting of the export ban and the issuance of export permits in Indonesia for those seeking an exemption from the Domestic Market Obligation requirements.
Despite expecting CPO prices to fall as quickly as they rose, it said the quantum of decline was larger-than-expected, leading the research house to believe that speculative activities are also at play.
“Other commodities like soybean prices also fell 10%, wheat prices were down 14% and crude oil prices retreated 15% in the last few weeks,” it said.
RHB Research believes stock levels for CPO will remain tight in the coming months, possibly until the end of third quarter, thus supporting CPO prices at current levels.
However, it noted that CPO prices could fall to lower levels of RM4,000 to RM5,000 per tonne for the rest of the year as fundamentals improve, assuming that labour shortages are resolved and Ukrainian oilseed output is able to be exported out.
“Our price assumptions of RM5,300 technically assume a price average of about RM4,300 for 2H22, which could be surpassed on the downside based on the current trajectory.”,
RHB Research also noted that CPO prices are trading at a significant discount to soybean oil and gas oil.
With CPO trading at a discount to soybean oil, it expects demand to pick up from consuming countries in the short term.
It said this would include price-sensitive nations like China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, given the extremely low stock levels currently.
On the global supply of vegetable oils, RHB Research said it is beginning to see the “light at the end of the tunnel”.
This comes after some progress with regards to food exports, as Russia and Turkey have agreed to pursue talks on a potential safe-sea corridor in the Black Sea to export seeds and grain from Ukraine, despite the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
While labour shortages remain a concern in Malaysia, the research house said the first and second batch of Indonesian workers arrived on June 22 and June 24, respectively.
On the back of the recent dip in CPO prices, it pointed out that share prices have consequently been negatively affected.
RHB Research maintained its “neutral” call on the plantation sector and named Wilmar International Ltd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd as its top picks, believing that these companies are able to withstand the lower CPO price environment better than pure planters.