FILE PHOTO: A worker inspects newly-made gloves at Top Glove

Malaysia’s Top Glove Profit Soars on Pandemic Demand but Ban Crimps U.S. Sales

The world’s largest medical glove manufacturer had posted record profits for the prior four straight quarters, bolstered by people using more gloves due to increased hygiene awareness in the pandemic.

In a stock exchange filing, the firm said net profit for the March-May period jumped to 2.04 billion ringgit ($495.63 million) from 347.9 million ringgit a year ago. UBS had forecast a profit of 2.54 billion ringgit, according to Refinitiv data.

Its revenue rose 147% to 4.16 billion ringgit from 1.69 billion ringgit.

Top Glove shares, which are suspended prior to its earnings announcement, rose 0.2% on Wednesday. They have nearly 22% this year.

Top Glove, which produces 100 billion pieces of gloves a year, said average selling prices, which had peaked in February, declined during the period and it had made adjustments in line with glove market pricing trends.

It also said compared to the preceding quarter, its sales volume eased mainly due to a reduction in sales to the United States, following a temporary halt in U.S. shipments from Malaysia due to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) import ban.

“Nonetheless, global glove demand remains resilient as glove usage continues to rise, driven by the ongoing pandemic,” it said.

U.S. Customs prohibited the import of Top Glove products last July, citing evidence of forced labour practices at the company’s production facilities across Malaysia.

CBP subsequently instructed U.S. ports to seize the firm’s goods.

The manufacturer has been working to resolve the CBP ban.

Top Glove said in April it has resolved all indicators of forced labour in its operations and that this had been verified by the London-based ethical trade consultant Impactt Limited.

The U.S. action has stalled Top Glove’s pursuit of a $1 billion listing in Hong Kong, as potential investors raised concerns about the impact, Reuters has reported

Top Glove has said it remained committed to the listing.

($1 = 4.1160 ringgit)

(Reporting by Liz Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)