NOL Shares Surge

Thursday, May 17, 2001
Shares of shipping group Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) hit a nine-month high today, boosted by prospects of its logistics operations and hopes its weightage will rise in changes to the MSCI Singapore index. NOL, which is the world's sixth largest container shipper, is up 12.5 percent since the start of the year and has outperformed the benchmark Straits Times Index by 31 percent. "A lot of houses like this stock because it has been a great turnaround story. There is also speculation that it might be a beneficiary in the upcoming MSCI changes," a dealer with a Singapore brokerage said. The Singapore-based company, in which the government holds 33 percent, is a constituent stock of the MSCI index with a 1.18 percent weighting. Masya Spek, analyst at GK Goh, said in a recent report that investors' perceptions of NOL as an unprofitable debt-laden monolith was a thing of the past. NOL had debts of S$1.93 billion at the end of 2000, after some asset sales and a recapitalization, against debts of US$3.1 billion in 1998. She expected the company to reduce gearing even as it expands its operations and noted that NOL was chartering rather than buying new vessels. - (Reuters)

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