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PETALING JAYA: Crude palm oil (CPO) is on track to hit a historic average selling price (ASP) of RM3,500 per tonne this year, breaking the previous record of RM3,274 per tonne in 2011.
Year to date, the CPO spot price and benchmark third-month CPO futures contract have averaged at RM4,099 and RM3,821 per tonne respectively.
In its latest report, Maybank Investment Bank Research (Maybank IB Research) has raised its CPO ASP forecast to RM3,500 per tonne for 2021 from RM3,100 per tonne previously. It also targeted CPO ASP for 2022-2023 at RM2,800 per tonne from RM2,600 per tonne earlier.
“We will reflect these changes in our earnings per share forecasts throughout the upcoming results release upon fresh guidance on the output outlook and forward sales (if any).
“Our base line assumption is for rehiring of foreign workers to resume in 2022 after a large percentage of Malaysia’s population is fully vaccinated by year-end,” added the research house.
While it is doubtful for the current high CPO prices to remain sustainable, Maybank IB Research said prices nonetheless will likely stay lofty by historical standards till early next year.
As of Aug 10, CPO price continues to trade at healthy discounts to other major vegetable oils namely soybean oil at US$228 to US$389 (RM965.5 to RM1,647.22) per tonne and the EU rapeseed oil at US$311 (RM1,316.93) per tonne.
On the stockpile situation, the research house said the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s lower stockpile of 1.5 million tonnes in July was due to weak CPO output.
“Since the hiring freeze on foreign workers in 2020, the sector has faced a shortage of workers in Malaysia, which in turn impacted productivity,” it added.
This is coupled with a possible lack of fertilising activities by smallholders over the past two years due to low CPO prices in 2018-2019 and the need to accelerate replanting of old trees.
The country’s output in the first seven month of this year has suffered significant decline, down by 9% year-on-year (y-o-y).
“The street is now revising their 2021 estimates with Malaysian Palm Oil Association’s CEO Datuk Nageeb Wahab even suggesting that 2021 output to be as low as 18 million tonnes, down by 6% y-o-y,” added Maybank IB Research.
The research house is positive on the plantation sector with preferred “buy” calls on Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd, Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd and Boustead Plantations Bhd.