As the world’s biggest glove maker stumbles because of ESG concerns, a metal producer’s focus on environmental, social and governance practices has made it a darling among investors.
Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd. surged 18% in the March quarter to become the best performer on Malaysia’s benchmark stock index. The company, whose plants run on hydropower, has rallied amid higher prices of the metal and bets that its products made with a smaller carbon footprint will be in demand.
The global decarbonization agenda and rising investor interest in ESG factors have put Southeast Asia’s biggest aluminum smelter in a sweet spot. China is trying to meet a goal of carbon neutrality by 2060, leaving aluminum producers that run on coal-fired power in the government’s cross-hairs.
The company’s hydro-run smelter means it uses renewable energy to produce the metal, which bodes well with ESG-centric clients, Low Jin Wu, an analyst at Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd. said in a report.
“Press Metal tops when it comes to ESG because of their strategic decision to position themselves in Sarawak with rich hydro-power as their power backbone,” said Chua Zhu Lian, investment director at Fortress Capital Asset Management Sdn. “There’s scarcity of low-carbon aluminum makers globally.”
Shares of Press Metal have doubled from its October low to 10.06 ringgit. The company is now the eighth-biggest by market value in Malaysia’s stock gauge, surpassing Top Glove. A year ago, Press Metal languished in the bottom five, while Top Glove at one point in October was close to becoming the nation’s most valued firm.
Top Glove shares have tumbled 24% this year as vaccine rollouts weaken its appeal. The rout deepened this week after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ordered personnel at U.S. ports of entry to seize its gloves over allegations of forced labor.
That’s a blow to Top Glove and comes as Malaysia’s key industries — palm oil and gloves — grapple with intense scrutiny over poor labor practices.
(By Chan Tien Hin and Yantoultra Ngui)