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Are Thai stocks set to rebound with greater political certainty?

By Beansprout • 06 Sep 2023 • 0 min read

With Srettha Thavisin elected as the Prime Minister of Thailand, we analyse if it might be worthwhile revisiting stocks that offer exposure to the Thai market.

thailand prime minister srettha thavisin

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What happened?

After the launch of Singapore Depository Receipts offering exposure to three of Thailand’s blue chip companies – CP All, Airports of Thailand and PTT Exploration and Production, we’ve been getting a number of questions on the political outlook of Thailand.

The Thai stock market has fallen a fair bit following the Thai Elections in May, and remains one of the worst-performing markets in Asia so far this year.  

As of 31 July 2023, the Thai stock market as represented by the SET Index declined by 7% year-to-date. This compares to a 4% gain for the Straits Times Index (STI), and a 20% gain for the S&P 500 index. 

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However, there has been improved optimism on the Thai market in the past week after Srettha Thavisin was elected as the Prime Minister of Thailand, ending a political deadlock that has dragged on for months. 

Let us dive deeper to understand how the election of Thailand’s 30th Prime Minister could impact the stock market, and if it might be worthwhile revisiting stocks that offer exposure to the Thai market

How will the Thai Elections result affect the market?

#1 – Greater political and economic certainty

Following the national elections in May, the opposition Move Forward party had won the largest share of seats but party leader Pita Limjaroenrat did not receive sufficient support to be elected as Prime Minister. 

After months of being administered by a caretake government, Thailand’s second largest political party - Pheu Thai announced that it has formed a 11-party coalition to form a government on 22 August. 

 PartySeatsQuota for
   MinisterDep. Minister
1Pheu Thai14189
2Bhumjai Thai7144
3Palang Pracharath4022
4United Thai Nation3622
5Chart Thai Pattana101 
6Prachachart91 
7Chart Pattana Kla2  
8Pheuthai Ruam Palang2  
9Seri Ruam Thai1  
10Thong Thee Thai1  
11Palang Sangkom Mai1  
   Total3141817

In the joint parliamentary sitting on 22 August, Pheu Thai’s Srettha Thavisin received 482 votes, above the 375 required to be elected as Prime Minister. 

A day later, the Thai King endorsed Srettha Thavisin to become the Prime Minister of Thailand.

Srettha Thavisin spent little time in moving things forward, and shared on 28th August that the cabinet line-up has been finalised.

With the new government formed, the significant political uncertainty that has weighed on market sentiment is being removed.  

#2 – Thai Baht rallied following the Thai PM appointment

Reflecting the increased confidence in Thailand’s economy, the Thai Baht bounced after the appointment of Srettha Thavisin as the Prime Minister.

From a year-to-date low exchange rate of about 1 USD to THB 35.6 on 19th August, the Thai Baht strengthened by close to 2% to an exchange rate of about 1 USD to THB 35.0 on 23rd August.

It has since settled at about 1 USD to THB 35.0 as further progress has been made in forming the Thai government.

The Economist Intelligence Unit expects the Thai Baht to appreciate against the US Dollar as economic growth accelerates slightly in 2023 and more strongly in 2024

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Source: Google 

 

#3 – Boost to consumer spending 

To understand what are some of the key economic policies that the new Thai government may drive in the coming years, we can look at some of the campaign pillars of the Pheu Thai Party during the elections. 

Previously the Chief Executive Officer of Sansiri - one of Thailand’s largest property groups, Srettha Thavisin is seen by many to be pro-business.

He is also well-liked by the business community. Close to 66% of business executives surveyed by the Krungthep Turakij newspaper said that he was their preferred choice to be Thailand’s Prime Minister. 

More importantly, the Pheu Thai Party has a target to grow Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) at 5% per annum. 

To achieve this target, the Pheu Thai Party has centred is policies on boosting incomes and domestic consumption. 

For example, it aims to raise the daily minimum wage to THB 600 by 2027. It also targets to increase the monthly household income to at least THB 20,000. 

For those graduating with a bachelor’s degree, the starting salary is targeted to reached THB 25,000 by 2027.

To provide a boost to domestic consumption, the party had previously suggested a one-time giveaway of THB 10,000 to Thais above 16 years old via a digital wallet. The handout would have to be spent within four kilometres of their residence over the next six months. 

Thailand’s consumer confidence dipped in July with the political uncertainty, after reaching a 3-year high in June.

The rollout of various initiatives to boost incomes and consumption could reverse the decline, and provide a boost to Thailand’s retail sales and economic growth. 

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With the significant contribution of tourism to the Thai economy, Srettha is also aiming to revive the tourism sector which is starting to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This could involve potentially easing visa restrictions for Chinese and Indian tourists, which collectively represented close to 40% of all tourist arrivals in Thailand back in 2019. 

What are the risks?

Despite more clarity on the how the political landscape is shaping up, there are still roadblocks ahead that need to be resolved.

For example, it may not be easy for Srettha to enact policies with the new government comprising of 11 different parties. 

Also, slowing global economic growth could present a headwind to Thailand’s recovery. In particular, should the US Federal Reserve decide to keep interest rates stronger for longer, the US dollar could continue to strengthen against the Thai Baht. 

What would Beansprout do?

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Source: Tradingview

 

As of 29th August 2023, the Thai stock market as represented by the SET 30 Index has fallen by 6.4% year-to-date. 

This is despite the bounce of more than 6% we have seen from the lows in June this year, as investor sentiment has started to turn positive with greater political certainty. 

We’d be looking for further progress that the new Thai government is able to make in boosting consumer spending and tourist arrivals. 

Should it be able to implement some of the initiatives mentioned such as the one-time giveaway, it could benefit companies with significant exposure to retail sales in Thailand.

For example, CP All is the operator of the largest convenience store chain in Thailand through the 7-Eleven network. In addition, CP All also has significant exposure to the retail market in Thailand through Makro and Lotus grocery stores.

Looking at the share price of CP All SDR, it has rebounded more than 5% from the appointment of Srettha as the Prime Minister on 22 August through to 29 August.

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Source: SGX

 

Looking at a longer trading history, the share price of the underlying CP All stock of THB 65.75 on the Stock Exchange of Thailand as of 29 August remains below its recent high of THB 70 reached earlier this year. 

For a more detailed analysis on CP All, read our earlier report here.

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Source: Google

 

Apart from CP All, SGX-listed Thai Beverage also has a significant exposure to the Thai consumer sector as Thailand’s largest beverage company known for its  Chang Beer beverage. 

For investors looking for companies exposed to the Thai tourism sector, Airports of Thailand (AOT) operates six major airports in Thailand, including the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. 

image.png
Source: Google

 

The share price of AOT SDR also recently hit a post-listing high of S$2.90 on 23 August from a closing price of S$2.76 when it listed on the SGX. The jump in share price was driven by increased optimism about more initiatives to be taken to boost the tourist arrivals into Thailand. 

For a more detailed analysis on AOT, read our earlier report here.

You can now invest in Thai blue chip companies such as CP All and AOT through Singapore Depository Receipts (SDR) on the Singapore stock exchange. 

The CP All SDR trades on the SGX under the stock code TCPD, while the AOT SDR trades under the stock code TATD. Lastly, the stock code of the PTTEP SDR is TPED. 

You will be able to buy Singapore Depository Receipts directly through a stock trading platform which offers trading on the Singapore Exchange. 

Click here to read our earlier article explaining what are Singapore Depository Receipts.  You can also find more resources at the SGX product page.

Join us for a free webinar on 12 September to find out how you can gain exposure to Thailand's economic recovery through Singapore Depository Receipts.

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This article was first published on 06 September 2023 .

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