The healthcare sector is receiving “another shot in the arm” with gradual reopening in Singapore and Malaysia, say Maybank Kim Eng Research analysts Lai Gene Lih and Eric Ong. 

In an Oct 13 note, Lai and Ong are upgrade the healthcare sector to “positive”.

Reopening is good for healthcare plays. Singapore and Malaysia have each revealed plans to start reopening their borders, as vaccination rates have reached 83% and 66% respectively, write Lai and Ong. 

“The transition from zero-Covid strategy towards ‘living with Covid-19’ provides several angles that Raffles Medical Group (RFMD) can benefit from, while strong dental business continues to sustain Q&M’s prospects,” say the analysts. 

Hence, Lai and Ong are maintaining “buy” on RFMD and Q&M, while raising RFMD’s target price to $1.68 and keeping Q&M at 85 cents. 

See: New director at Raffles Medical and substantial shareholder at Accrelist raise respective stakes

“RFMD has the most levers to benefit from reopening. In our view, RFMD is a net beneficiary of Singapore’s continued reopening stance,” says Lai and Ong. 

RMFD is the sole provider of PCR tests for vaccine travel lanes (VTL). Currently, RFMD benefits from the nine additional VTLs, with a total of 11 out of Singapore. 

In addition, the government is already rolling out vaccination booster shots, which may imply more resilient vaccination revenue than originally expected. 

Lastly, as the public healthcare system is currently stressed, Lai and Ong believe RFMD’s emergency care collaboration (ECC) with the government will continue to be relevant to help manage capacity at public hospitals. 

Foreign patients remain slow to recover, but Lai and Ong believe this is an upside driver when tourists from more countries are able to travel to Singapore more freely. 

As Singapore extends its quarantine-free travel to more countries, Singapore’s health ministry announced on Oct 9 that Covid-19 testing protocols have been streamlined to rely more on antigen rapid test (ART), which typically produces results in less than 20 minutes. PCR testing capacity is to be reserved mainly for people who are unwell and symptomatic Covid-19 patients, as well as VTL travellers. 

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As at 3.11pm, shares in Raffles Medical are trading 1 cent higher, or 0.65% up, at $1.54; while shares in Q&M Dental are trading flat at 57.5 cents.

Photo: Bloomberg