Photographer: Brent Lewin

Youthful Myanmar Lures Thailand's Richest Health Firm

Updated on
  • Thonburi Healthcare’s 23% rally leads health index in 2018
  • Company to open $75 million Yangon hospital in second quarter

Thonburi Healthcare Group Pcl, Thailand’s top-performing health stock this year, expects to open a hospital in Yangon by June to bolster the company’s earnings outlook.

The $75 million, 200-bed facility is part of an 8 billion-baht ($253 million) investment plan through 2020 to expand services in Thailand and other Southeast Asian nations, Thonburi Healthcare Chairman Boon Vanasin said in an interview Thursday.

Boon Vanasin

Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

“Rising incomes and under-developed healthcare systems create opportunities for exponential growth in neighboring countries,” Boon said.

Thai hospital operators have sought opportunities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, lured by urbanization and a growing middle class. Some of the country’s providers are among the most richly valued stocks on the SET index, increasing pressure to find engines of expansion beyond Thailand’s aging population and medical tourism sector.

Aside from the expansion into Myanmar, Boon said he’s also in talks with potential partners for new hospitals in Laos and Vietnam.

It’s a tough challenge for Thonburi Healthcare to compete with bigger rivals for foreign patients, but expanding internationally can help the company build brand recognition, said Mongkol Puangpetra, the head of research at KTB Securities (Thailand) Co. in Bangkok.

Thonburi Healthcare trades at about 44 times blended forward 12-month earnings, the second-highest ratio in the SET Health Care Services index. The stock jumped as much as 5.7 percent Thursday to a record. Its 23 percent advance this year leads the 21-member Health Care gauge.

(Updates share price performance in final paragraph.)
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