Vietnam Seafood Stocks Dip as Global Crisis Looms

The Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HCMC Exchange) listed seafood companies on the top and bottom ends of its best and worst performer's list last week. The worst performer was Minh Phu Seafood Joint-Stock Co., closing at 67 cents after losing 5 percent in value.

Singapore's Temasek Holdings owns 10 percent of Minh Phu. The company was on top of its game when Temasek acquired it in June 2007. At that time, Wong Heng Tew, Temasek's chief representative for Vietnam, stated confidence in Minh Phu as the "emerging champion" of the Vietnamese seafood industry. It is the second-largest listed seafood company on the HCMC Exchange.

Not far behind Temasek is Cuu Long Fish Joint Stock Co., which lost 4.9 percent in value since July, closing at $1.72.

Still another prominent Vietnamese seafood exporter suffering significant losses is An Giang Fisheries Import and Export Joint-Stock Co. Last week it dipped to its lowest point since August 2003, closing at 97 cents, a 4.6 percent loss in value.

The worst performing stock last quarter is the country's largest catfish exporter, Nam Viet Corp. Nevertheless, it bounced back last week closing at $1.35, making it the HCMC Exchange's best performer.

Declining confidence in seafood exports can be attributed largely to economic hardships in Vietnam's top three seafood export markets, the United States, Japan and European Union, which are dealing with simultaneous recessions, according to the International Monetary Fund.

As recorded at the General Statistics Office in Hanoi, seafood is Vietnam's third largest export, behind petroleum and textiles, accounting for $3.8 billion through the end of October. Even with the 23 percent increase to date, Tran Thien Hai, chairman of Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers, predicted a continued downward trend.

Nguyen Van Ben, general manager of Vietnam Food, shared that its U.S. and EU buyers are placing orders monthly, instead of securing the traditional annual contracts.


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