Coconut exporter Axelum marks PSE listing

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Coconut exporter Axelum Resources Corp. goes public on Monday, kicking off a series of listings at the Philippine Stock Exchange before yearend.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 7) — Coconut exporter Axelum Resources Corp. made its stock market debut on Monday, as it looked to raise ₱4 billion in fresh funding from local investors.

The company is now trading on the main board of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) under the symbol AXLM, and announced that it has bagged a new major contract for its coconut products abroad.

In a statement, Axelum said it is the first to enter the PSE's main board through an initial public offering (IPO) since March 2018. It kicks off a series off listings this year, with six other firms looking to go public by December.

Kepwealth Property Philippines, Inc. went public in August, but listed on the PSE's Small, Medium, and Emerging Board.

Axelum's stocks opened at ₱5.29 apiece, higher than its ₱5 price on its prospectus. However, the value of these shares slipped for the rest of the trading session, closing 6.2 percent lower to ₱4.69 on Tuesday afternoon. The slide mirrored that of the barometer PSE index, which ended the day 0.28 percent lower at 7,683.22.

Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist at BDO Unibank, said it's mostly market jitters about the global economy which has been keeping investors at bay.

"The sentiment is overtaken by the issue of perception. It's overshadowed by global risks, but the economy highlights a resilient domestic economy," Ravelas told CNN Philippines in a phone interview.

He said investors are "too glued" to the trade war between the United States and China, which has triggered negative views as it appears to have stretched longer. This, despite lower interest rates and cooling inflation in the Philippines.

Among the companies looking to raise fresh funds by going public are the Villar-owned home furnishing chain AllHome Corporation, juice stall franchise Fruitas Holdings, Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc., Taiwan's local electronics unit Cal-Comp Technology (Philippines), Altus Property Ventures, Inc., and Allied Care Experts (ACE) Medical Center-Tacloban, Inc.

Still, Axelum Chairman Romeo Chan said he is "pleased" with the result of the public float, saying they received placements from both local and foreign investors covering retail, pension, and retirement funds; insurance companies; trust funds; banks; and private companies.

Axelum is known for supplying Vita Coco, which is coconut water packaged as a drink. Dessicated coconut, coconut milk and cream, and coconut cooking oil are among its key products. Among its major clients are chocolate maker The Hershey Co., Ferrero, and Cadbury Schweppes, as well as diversified manufacturers Nestle, Unilever, Campbell's, Quaker, and Kellogg's.

"We have already put up the necessary infrastructure to grow our business and with this IPO, we are confident that we are in a better position to pursue our expansion plans and capture the increasing demand for high value coconut products," Chan said in Axelum's first disclosure as a listed firm to the local bourse.

The company added that it recently closed a new order for organic coconut milk powder for a skin care product manufacturer abroad initially worth 170 metric tons. Axelum President Henry Raperoga said this is a high-margin product which the firm is pursuing.

First Metro Investment Corporation served as sole issue manager and bookrunner, with the help of BPI Capital as joint lead underwriters.

Axelum's main production plant is in Medina, Misamis Oriental but runs two distribution facilities in Australia and the United States.