Global supply seen to increase 20% this year PETALING JAYA: Demand for rubber gloves and its average selling prices (ASP) are expected to remain elevated in the medium term driven by the vaccination programme worldwide. Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research expects rubber gloves’ ASPs to remain high at about US$115-US$140 per thousand pieces, before a possible decline in the fourth quarter. “For the foreseeable future, we believe that glove demand and ASPs will be driven by testing frequency and vaccine rollouts needing gloves. “For the remainder of 2021, we expect the vaccination demand for gloves to more than offset the decline in demand used for testing, ” it said in a report yesterday. The research house expects global glove supply to increase by 20% this year. This is on players ramping up production capacities and newer players entering the market. But that is not enough to offset the supply shortage of gloves that would remain at about 12.4 billion pieces this year. HLIB said that while many countries are ramping up their vaccination programmes, current estimates indicate that global herd immunity could take as long as five years and this would provide support for glove demand in the medium term. “Despite Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines stating that gloves are not required to be worn for vaccinations, our channel checks suggest that in most cases, gloves are in fact being used. “For example, in the case of the United States, which is estimated to account for 35% of the world’s glove demand, the ‘National Strategy for the Covid-19 response and pandemic preparedness’ document published by the White House on January 2021 mentioned that the US is taking immediate action to fill supply shortfalls for vaccination supplies, which include nitrile gloves, ” HLIB said. It said based on its observation from pictures and videos of US citizens receiving the vaccine, gloves were worn by nurses and doctors administering the vaccine. “As such, while vaccinations are expected to eventually prevent the spread of Covid-19 (and hence lower the usage of gloves for testing), in the medium term, it would in fact increase demand for gloves, ” it added. Despite the view of sustained demand for gloves, HLIB said it has reduced its target price on Top Glove Corp Bhd to RM8.06 per share from RM10.54 based on a discounted cash flow valuation. “Despite share prices correcting downwards, we do not expect the vaccine rollout to be as straightforward as the market suggests. “This is because logistical, procurement, the anti-vaccination movement and second strain issues could derail efforts and thus provide support for glove demand, ” it said.
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