Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

This Little Known Malaysian Stock Has Surged 400%

Corrected
  • Techfast jumps on expansion of mold-cleaning sheets business
  • Small-cap company posts one of top-four gains in country

For technology stock investors, it sometimes pays to buy the companies that make the parts.

Take Techfast Holdings Bhd., a small Malaysian supplier of everything from screws and self-clinching fasteners to materials for light-emitting diodes. The little-known firm has surged more than fivefold this year alone, making it one of the best performers in the country’s equity market, as investors took notice of an overseas expansion and a profitable relationship.

Yap Yoon Sing

Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

Jason Yap Yoon Sing, the managing director and founder, pointed to Techfast’s move to supply its mold-cleaning rubber sheets to Chinese and Taiwanese chipmakers. He also noted the relationship with New York-based fastener-maker Richard Manno & Co. to produce precision machined parts for the military and aerospace industries.

“The margins are beautiful,” Yap, 51, said in an interview at the company’s headquarters on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, referring to the Manno tie-up. Clients in those sectors are willing to pay more for quality machined parts, such as shoulder screws used to secure protective casings for sensitive equipment, he said.

Techfast is one of a handful of small-cap Malaysian companies that form part of the technology supply chain. While they often fall under analysts’ radars, knowing them can bring strong returns for investors.

Techfast’s more than 400 percent gain this year compares with a near 80 percent advance for a Malaysian index of technology shares. That ranks in the top three of the country’s more than 900 listed firms, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Techfast surged 14 percent on Monday to close at the highest on record since its 2005 listing in Kuala Lumpur, compared with less than 0.1 percent increase for the country’s benchmark index.

Yap founded Techfast in 1999 and took it public in 2005. His current partner and the chairman of the company, Michael Lim Tock Ooi, joined the firm in 2001 after previously serving as its external auditor. The company has factories in Penang state to make epoxy, a material that’s used to make LEDs, and mold-cleaning rubber sheets designed to remove contaminants from machines for making semiconductors.

Techfast’s profit surged 73 percent year-on-year to 1.7 million ringgit ($401,511) in the six months ended June, helped partly by increased sales of its fasteners, which are used in everything from flat-screen TVs to cars.

The Techfast manufacturing facility in Shah Alam, Malaysia.

Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

Mold Cleaner

The company, which supplies its mold-cleaning rubber sheets to about 70 percent of Malaysia’s chipmakers, is expanding into markets like Taiwan and China, including talks with Chinese chip-testing company Tianshui Huatian Technology Co., Yap said.

Techfast also supplies epoxy for making LEDs to clients including Lite-On Technology Corp., a Taiwanese manufacturer of computer components and peripheral equipment, and German light manufacturer Osram Licht AG, according to Yap. He says a client will be setting up a new plant in Penang state, which may boost demand for Techfast’s epoxy products.

Yap speaks with employees on the production floor

Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

More Expensive

But Techfast has become more expensive. The company is valued at 46 times reported earnings, the highest level in two years. And the stock is volatile, swinging between big annual gains and losses since going public.

Still, for Yap, the share-price surge is just the start. He says he plans to return 40 percent of the company’s net income to shareholders starting this financial year, up from 26 percent in 2016.

The “big leap” in profit will be in 2018, he said.

(Corrects description of relationship with Tianshui in ninth paragraph of story published Monday; notes Penang factory is being built by a client in 10th paragraph.)
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