Venture shares surge amid several large trades

Singapore 50 dollar bill

Shares of Venture Corp. surged on Monday, closing up 11.96 percent at S$18.25, the day’s high, amid several large trades, spurring a trading-activity query from SGX.

The stock saw elevated volume of 4.192 million shares on Monday, up from 2.767 million on Friday. Just before market open, a block of 25,300 shares was traded at S$16.40, according to DZHI data. At 10:10 A.M. SGT, a block of 28,400 shares was traded at S$17.00, which followed several other earlier large trades. At 3:53 P.M. SGT, there was a block of 20,200 shares at S$18.00, the data showed.

Most notably, however, at 5:05 P.M. SGT, two large blocks of shares moved at S$18.25, one at 65,400 shares and one at 86,600, the data showed.

In response to the SGX query, Venture said after the market close that it was not aware of any information not previously announced that might explain the trading.

Venture said in the filing to SGX that since the release of its first-quarter earnings in April, it had no material financial information to announce. It noted its second-quarter earnings would be released on 3 August.

The stock has been beaten down sharply in recent months amid expectations that a product it is believed to make for Philip Morris, the IQOS smokeless tobacco device, was seeing slowing sales growth. Venture was also expected to face competition with other manufacturers over how much of the IQOS manufacturing it received.

In the wake of the stock’s sharp drop from as high as S$29.65 in April, the company has engaged in several share buybacks, but it would be required to report any additional purchases to the exchange.

Earlier this month, Credit Suisse estimated IQOS made up 12-18 percent of group revenue and nearly 38 percent of revenue growth last year.

The bank was also more pessimistic on the product than Philip Morris International, which lowered its 2018 shipment forecast to 55 billion to 60 billion units, from over 60 billion previously, with Credit Suisse projecting only 52 billion units would be shipped.

In its earnings report last week, Philip Morris lowered its earnings guidance for the year, in part due to lower-than-expected sales for IQOS.

However, in a potential positive for Venture, Reuters reported last month, citing four sources familiar with the matter, that Philip Morris was planning to launch IQOS in India, which has the world’s second-largest population of smokers.


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