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Asia’s Top Currency Helps Thai iPhone Retailer Lead the World

Lee Miller and Anuchit Nguyen

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While Thailand’s surging currency is squeezing exporters, the nation’s largest consumer-electronics retail chain is benefiting as the strong baht attracts customers by making iPhones and Samsung smartphones cheaper.

Com7 Pcl’s 72% total return this year through Monday on its stock ranks as the world’s best performance among electronics sellers with a market value of at least $500 million, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings growth will enjoy “strong momentum” for the rest of this year, partly helped by the baht, after a record profit in the second quarter, according to the company.

“The strong baht means lower prices for smartphones and other devices, which will bolster consumer demand,” said Poramet Tongbua, an analyst at Bualuang Securities Pcl. “That will benefit Com7’s earnings outlook, as it has the strongest brand and branch network in the country.”

Com7 operates Banana and Studio 7 stores that specialize in smartphones, PCs and other electronic devices manufactured by brands such as Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Huawei Technologies Co. The Bangkok-based retailer has been in talks with those companies about plans to cut product prices following the baht’s gain, Chief Executive Officer Sura Kanittavikul told investors last week.

“Our earnings growth looks rosier in the second half, with cheaper prices and the onset of the year’s highest-spending period,” Sura said.

The baht has gained about 5.5% this year, the best performer among major Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. Com7’s net income in the April-June period jumped 36% from a year earlier to 294 million baht ($9.5 million), the highest quarterly earnings since the company listed in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To be sure, the baht’s strength isn’t welcomed everywhere in Thailand. Southeast Asia’s second-biggest economy grew at the slowest pace in almost five years in the second quarter as exports and tourism were buffeted by U.S.-China trade tensions and the strong local currency.

To contact the reporters on this story: Lee Miller in Bangkok at lmiller@bloomberg.net;Anuchit Nguyen in Bangkok at anguyen@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sunil Jagtiani at sjagtiani@bloomberg.net, Margo Towie, Kurt Schussler

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