Hyphens Pharma International Ltd – Year of investment and challenges


The Positive

+ Healthy balance sheet and special dividend. The company announced a 3.6 cents special interim dividend for the 5th anniversary of its IPO. The payout of S$11mn is well supported by its net cash of S$33mn as of Jun23.


The Negative

- Weakness in specialty pharma. Specialty revenue was down 13% YoY in 1H23 to S$41mn. The drop was from the discontinuation of distributing Biosensors products (Dec22), the absence of one-off hospital tenders and supply disruptions of several specialty pharma products. Vietnam bore the brunt of the supply disruption with revenue contracting 27% in 1H23.

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd – Disruption in specialty pharma supply


The Positive

+ Healthy growth in proprietary brands. Proprietary brands revenue increased by 16% in 1Q23 supported by higher demand for Ceradan® dermatological products. Ceradan® and Ocean Health® have a pipeline of new products to be launched this year. The Group launched Ceradan® Advanced Emollient Wash in Singapore and Malaysia during 1Q2023.


The Negatives

- Supply disruption in specialty products. Specialty revenue fell 27% due to the cessation of the distributorship of Biosensors products in Dec 22 and the delay in the shipment of key products in Vietnam. Of the three suppliers facing production disruption, two resumed production in 2Q23.

- Weaker operating margins. Net profit margin suffered from higher R&D and travelling expenses. Margins will be weighed down further from DocMed investments into the platform.

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd – Assembling multiple growth engines



The Positive

+ Strong growth in specialty pharma. The largest earning driver was specialty pharma. EBITDA more than doubled to S$7.9mn with the inclusion of recently acquired Novem. We believe the re-opening has increased surgeries and visits to hospitals and specialists, thereby driving up revenue.

The Negative

- Softer proprietary margins. EBITDA margins for proprietary brands declined by 1.4% points YoY to 7.4% in 2H22. We believe higher production and product development costs contributed to the weakness in margins.



We expect slower growth post the pent-up demand after the re-opening. New products launched will support sales, such as Nabota® (botox), Meradan® (steroid eczema cream) and Winlevi® (acne cream). Hyphens continue to build medium-term franchises: (i) DocMed - a platform for doctors, drug companies and other healthcare providers; (ii) Proprietary brands in skin health products; (iii) Novem - expand specialty products distribution into the public sector.

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd – Digital healthcare catalyst emerges



Metro Holdings Limited will invest S$6mn through new preference shares for a 10% stake in Hyphens wholly owned subsidiary DocMed Technology (DocMed). DocMed owns Hyphens medical B2B hypermart (POM Medical Hypermart) and a licensed e-pharmacy (WellAway).

  1. POM is a B2B platform that serves doctor's drug and other medical supply needs. For instance, a clinic can order and receive all its drugs and supplies from POM. Revenue in FY21 was S$41mn including offline sales.
  2. WellAway serves the telemedicine industry as a licensed e-pharmacy. After tele consultation with patients, a doctor will be able to prescribe and arrange delivery of the drugs to their patients through WellAway. Doctors do not need to stock up with multiple and expensive drugs and can tap on WellAway’s extensive range. WellAway supports telemedicine fulfilment needs.



With the proceeds, DocMed will build up its manpower (technology, operations, marketing) and enhance its B2B platform to serve doctors. The platform can be enhanced with more pharmaceutical offerings, mobile features and a regional footprint across ASEAN. The expected timeline to enhance and expand the B2B platform is two years.

Key operational milestones of the platform will include a larger number of doctors joining and purchasing through the platform. Pharmaceutical companies are constantly looking to reach out and engage doctors. DocMed platforms will be an important platform to showcase their drugs to doctors. In turn, DocMed can generate new sources of revenue such as advertising and promotion from pharmaceutical companies.  


We upgrade our recommendation to BUY with a higher TP of S$0.43 (prev. S$0.345)

Hyphen's multiple-year growth strategy is to expand its proprietary brands of skincare products (e.g. Ceradan and tDf) across the region. The creation and development of the digital healthcare platform DocMed is an additional growth and share price catalyst. Near-term earnings drivers are the acquisition of Novem and growth in specialty pharma sales due to the return of elective surgeries after the pandemic.

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd – Speedbump in Vietnam

The Positive

+ Proprietary brands growth. Hyphens mentioned that proprietary brands have enjoyed robust growth. Skin healthcare products namely Ceradan and TDF likely performed better in Singapore due to border closure and branding efforts. Ocean Health supplements faring well in corporate sales but retail remains competitive due to the presence of multiple brands.

The Negative

+ Hurt by severe lockdown in Vietnam. Hyphen’s main products in Vietnam are specialty pharma products. Due to the tight movement controls and lockdown, non-essential medical tests and procedures such as X-rays, CT scans and cardiac stents were delayed. For instance, contrast media, a dye used in X-rays and CT scans, will face lower demand due to the reduced amount of medical tests conducted.


We view specialty pharma* as a stable cash-flow generator for Hyphens. Lockdowns in Vietnam will stifle sales momentum into 4Q21. The longer-term journey for Hyphens is to grow, invest and expand their portfolio of proprietary products namely Ceradan, TDF and Ocean Health. Hyphens has expanded Ceradan skincare creams from selling exclusively to doctors into retail pharmacies. Doctors prescribe Ceradan Advance whilst consumers can purchase the other range of Ceradan products. There is a sizeable pool of brand recognition from existing users of Ceradan when dispensed by doctors. TDF is another skin health product focused on ageing, pigmentation and age defence. The range of products was extended with a new range of sunscreen products. In August 2020, Hyphens introduced scalp care products under the CG 210 brand. Ocean Health supplements growth will primarily come from new export markets and continuous roll-out of innovative formulations.

*Specialty pharma – Selling more than 30 products to doctors and specialist. Doctors will in turn prescribe the products to their patients for consumption or use in procedures and tests. Hyphens typically have exclusive distribution agreements with their principals. The business is rather sticky because doctors seldom change such products.


Maintain BUY with an unchanged target price of S$0.345.

Our FY21e PATMI is raised by 6% due to higher margins as the mix of proprietary brands increase.


New Acquisition – Novem

Hyphens has proposed to acquire Novem for S$16.28mn (S$13.83mn cash and 8.3458mn new Hyphens shares worth S$2.44mn). The new shares issued is 2.7% of the enlarged share capital. Around 2/3 or 5.56mn of the consideration shares are under a 3-year moratorium. Novem is a distributor of pharmaceutical products for over 20 years. The majority of its customer base are government hospitals and polyclinics. This compares with only 10% for Hyphen. We view the acquisition as a positive for Hyphens. There is a potential 25% to 30% uplift in EPS, expansion of Hyphens product range, widening of customer especially into the public sector and raising of margins due to the higher margin profile of Novem (FY20 PAT margin of 18% vs Hyphens 5-6%).

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd-Repositioning for growth

The Positive

+ Proprietary brands sustained growth

Proprietary-brand revenue grew 23% YoY as the company continued to move sales online. Revenue was down 2% QoQ due to S$1mn of exceptional corporate sales of Ocean Health® supplements in the previous quarter. Stripping that out, QoQ growth would have been 26%, underscoring the strong organic growth of proprietary-brand products.

Specialty pharma and medical hypermart revenue was flat YoY though up 6%/4% QoQ. This reflected their recovery as Singapore gradually reopened.

The Negatives

- Inventory obsolescence hurt earnings

Inventory in excess of S$600k was marked down as a result of disruptions from COVID-19 across products:

FX exposure

About S$217k in FX losses was recognised from SGD weakness against the USD/EUR as well as depreciation of the rupiah and peso.


Repositioning business to capture long-term growth

The company continued to expand its proprietary-brand business with the signing of two distribution agreements: one for the distribution of Ocean Health® in Sri Lanka with Healthguard Pharmacy Limited (non-listed) and another for Ceradan® in China with Shanghai Good Luck International Trading Co. Ltd. (non-listed). We expect the company to continue investing in this business on account of better margins.

Normalisation expected in FY22

Inventories, receivables and payables may only normalise in FY22 after the company’s reorganisation of its operations.

Investment Action

Maintain ACCUMULATE with reduced DCF TP of S$0.365 from S$0.435

FY20e and FY21e earnings have been shaved by 20% to reflect a total write-off of COVID-19 test kits in the fourth quarter and a pushout in recovery to FY22e. We have also reduced margin expectations from their high base in FY19 and incorporated higher expenses from possible reinvestments in its own-brand business.

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd – Shaking off COVID-19 woes with expanded portfolio


The Positives

+ Proprietary brands revenue benefited (+24% YoY) from online sales channel during Circuit Breaker period in the second quarter.

Strong revenue growth within the proprietary brands segment was sustained throughout 1H20 with 1Q20 growth of 36% YoY and 2Q20 growth of 24% YoY. Demand across Ceradan® and Ocean Health® brand portfolio in 1H20 benefited from the Group’s move towards online sales channels in late FY19.

+ Underlying revenue growth intact despite slower second quarter.

Specialty pharma principals as well as medical hypermart and digital saw modest growth of 7% and 8% YoY in 1H20 respectively despite business slowdown during the second quarter as a result of disruption from COVID-19 across various geographies.

The medical hypermart and digital segment fell 0.7% YoY in the second quarter due to the nationwide Circuit Breaker implemented which saw dampened demand for medical supplies and prohibition of face-to-face interactions.


The Negatives

- Inventory stock-up in anticipation of product license renewals weigh on cash flows.

Due to expected delays in product license renewals typically observed in Vietnam operations, the company has started building up inventory to ensure supply in Vietnam is not disrupted. Inventory levels increased by S$4.7mn in the quarter as a result. This was partially offset by a strong set of operating performance to see the group record a net cash outflow of S$1.7mn for 2Q20.

Nevertheless, inventory levels should normalize in FY21 and the Group continues to maintain a healthy cash balance of S$26mn despite the tougher operating environment in 1H20.



Active expansion of product portfolio continues to provide growth catalysts.

During the quarter, the Group acquired hair growth product brand CG 210® to strengthen its proprietary brands portfolio. CG 210® will be sold through medical channels in Singapore and retail channels in Malaysia at the onset with plans to shift sales to retail channels for the Singapore market. New product launches across existing brand portfolios Ceradan® and Ocean Health® also provides the Group with new revenue streams.

Expanded product portfolio will contribute positively to the Group’s top line from FY20 but the impact of contribution will be contingent on the uptake of new products.

Ocean Health® enters Hong Kong market with the inking of partnership deal with SUTL.

Hyphens Pharma enters the US$722mn vitamins and dietary supplements market in Hong Kong with the inking of a Distribution Agreement of Ocean Health® products with lifestyle group SUTL.

SUTL is known for its extensive distribution network of Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) brands across 14 markets in Asia and Ocean Health® is the first health supplement product to be distributed under the Company.

The deal will provide the Group with an established retail sales channel for its Ocean Health® products to enter a competitive market.

Investment Actions

We maintain our ACCUMULATE recommendation with a revised TP of S$0.495 (prev S$0.435). FY20e earnings was adjusted upwards by 25% to reflect strong top-line growth and income recognised from the Job Support Scheme in Singapore. We also adjusted terminal growth rate from 1.5% to 2.0% to represent the plentiful organic and inorganic growth opportunities in the long term within the fragmented industry.

Hyphens Pharma International Ltd (Initiation)- Building channels to establish business longevity


Company Background

Hyphens Pharma International Limited (“Hyphens Pharma”) was founded in September 1998 by Chairman, Executive Director and CEO Mr. Lim See Wah when the Group made an investment in Pan-Malayan Pharmaceuticals (“Pan-Malayan”). Its principal business activities include the sales, marketing and distribution of pharmaceutical and healthcare-related products on behalf of its proprietary brands and renowned pharmaceutical principals such as Sofibel and Guerbet.

Today, Hyphens Pharma has expanded its business to include both B2B and B2C channels with direct presence across 5 countries (Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines) and marketing and distribution network in 6 other markets (Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Myanmar and Oman).


Investment Merits

  1. Exclusivity as regional product owner for proprietary brands and renowned brand principals from Europe and the United States.

Hyphens Pharma is the sole regional product owner of an extensive portfolio of pharmaceutical and health supplement products. The Group has built up its product portfolio by entering into exclusive distributorship or licensing and supply agreement with brand principals such as Sofibel and Guerbet, as well as developing its own suite of dermatological and health supplement products through its brands Ceradan®, TDF® and Ocean Health®. Exclusive ownership of its product portfolio allows Hyphens Pharma to enjoy customer loyalty and a pricing premium. Portfolio sales are classified under business segments of Specialty Pharmaceuticals and Proprietary Brands, combining to contribute 67% of Hyphens Pharma’s revenue in FY19, with the remaining 33% contributed by the Medical Hypermart and Digital segment.


  1. Expansion of sales into B2C channel in Singapore will increase retail presence of Hyphens Pharma’s product portfolio.

Hyphens Pharma’s acquisition of Ocean Health in 2016 paved the way to introduce the Group’s portfolio into the retail market. With Ocean Health having an established retail presence in the local pharmacies such as Guardian and Watson’s, the acquisition provided Hyphens Pharma with valuable additions to its portfolio as well as securing shelf space in the competitive retail space for other products within its portfolio from both specialty pharma products and proprietary brands.

Apart from expanding into the physical retail space, Hyphens has also moved its products to e-commerce platforms such as Lazada, RedMart and Shopee. Hyphens will continue to enjoy top-line growth of its products as its footprint in the consumer sector grows.


  1. ‘Asset-light’ business model presents strong value creation.

By establishing itself within the value chain by undertaking high-value business functions such as sales and marketing for its extensive product portfolio while outsourcing capital-intensive functions such as production and logistics, Hyphens Pharma has managed to pursue an ‘asset-light’ business model. As a result, Hyphens is able to maintain a high margin business with expenses contributed largely by marketing and distribution and maintaining low capital expenditure (CAPEX) over the past 5 years.


We initiate Hyphens Pharma with an ACCUMULATE rating. Our target price of S$0.435 derived from a discounted cash flow model with weighted average cost of capital (WACC) of 7.2% and terminal growth rate of 1.5% implies a total return of 6%.


Industry Overview

The pharmaceutical goods industry is a fragmented industry with each medical discipline (e.g. dermatology, orthopaedics etc.) comprising a sub-segment on its own. A pharmaceutical product often undergoes years of Research & Development (R&D) process involving application for patents to protect technologies and strict regulations and procedures around safety and testing.

Due to the long and arduous R&D activities, product value is often concentrated on upstream activities. The product owners, known as the brand principals, will then take the product to the market themselves or out-license the product to distributors who will be in charge of go-to market strategies, which require specific market knowledge.

Apart from understanding market demand, entering a market also involves understanding regulations across jurisdictions as pharmaceutical products need to be registered with the relevant authorities before they can be sold in the different markets in accordance with local regulatory guidelines.

The industry value chain from upstream to downstream is illustrated in figure 1.

While brand principals hold the most value within the value chain which typically translates to higher margins, the long lead time as well as the huge capital outlay to engage in R&D to create new products often limits the scale of brand principals.

Distributors on the other hand, with their specific market knowledge, are able source for potential brand principals to expand their product portfolio, and in return, operate on a larger scale within their market. Distributors also engage with medical practitioners to raise the profile of their product portfolio and seek potential sales prospects such as specialists, general practitioners (GPs), retail pharmacies and even hospitals.



Hyphens Pharma operates three business segments – Specialty Pharma, Proprietary Brands as well as Medical Hypermart and Digital. Through its business segments, Hyphens Pharma has established itself within the value chain across various markets (Figure 2).


Business Segment

Specialty Pharmaceuticals Principals: the segment involves the management of the product portfolio that Hyphens Pharma owns through exclusive distributorship or licensing and supply agreement with pharmaceutical principals from Europe and the United State.

Currently, Hyphens Pharma has more than 30 products under its portfolio, including contrast media products (Figure 3) used in radiology from Guerbet S.A. and Stérimar® nasal sprays from Sofibel S.A.S.  Business activities within the segment include product registration and marketing campaigns to educate medical professionals on product knowledge to generate demand for products.

Having established its reputation of managing an extensive portfolio of pharmaceutical products within the region, Hyphens has enjoyed success through building long-term working relations with various brand principals. The segment has historically contributed more than half of the Group’s revenue, and experienced a CAGR of 10% over the past 5 years (Figure 5).


Proprietary Brands: Hyphens develops, and sells its own proprietary range of dermatological products as well as a suite of health supplement products. The segment saw contribution leapfrog from 3% in FY15 to 12% in FY19. This was largely due to the acquisition of Ocean Health® in 2016 which expanded its portfolio from Ceradan® to further include TDF® as well as Ocean Health® supplements.

Hyphens work with research partners such as A*STAR to conduct research and development (R&D) activities. Hyphens then bring its proprietary brands to the market regionally through its distribution network via a similar model undertaken for specialty pharma products.


Medical Hypermart and Digital: Hyphens Pharma conducts its online B2B business through Pan-Malayan. Carrying over 4,000 items from medical PPEs to pharmaceutical drugs, Hyphens undertakes the wholesale of medical supplies to more than 3,000 customers in Singapore ranging from specialists, GPs to hospitals and retail pharmacies.

Apart from specialty pharma brands and proprietary brands, the medical hypermart also carry trusted pharmaceutical drugs from Pfizer and Sanofi to provide customers with a one-stop shop for all their inventory needs. Hyphens also provides break-bulk services to customers by consolidating orders from customers and passing cost savings customers.

Revenues within the segment has remained relatively stable, with an average growth rate of 3% over the past 5 years and contributing 33% to Hyphens’ revenues in FY19.

For more information on Hyphens Pharma’s product portfolio, please refer to Appendix A.


Investment Thesis

i. High loyalty to specialty pharma products and proprietary brands. Hyphens Pharma is granted exclusive distributorship for products under the specialty pharma and proprietary brands segments. Apart from off-the-shelf health supplements under Ocean Health®, the products are generally sold to discerning medical practitioners. As such, Hyphens engage in extensive sales and marketing activities such as holding medical conventions and providing product knowledge training to doctors to prove the efficacy of its products for sales conversion.

The process of relationship-building with doctors builds trust for Hyphens and its product portfolio, which translates to customer loyalty. Customers are also deterred from switching products due to the inherent familiarity with existing products and a lack of substitutes products, especially for specialty products with niche uses.


ii. Expanding retail presence through online and offline channels. The acquisition of Ocean Health in 2016 allowed Hyphens to gain access to additional sales channels for its product portfolio that was largely B2B in nature. In the second half of 2019, the company brought three products, Stérimar®, Ceradan® and Vivomixx® to the retail market through retail pharmacies such as Guardian and Watson’s and saw robust growth in sales for these products.

The additional sales also came at minimal marketing and distribution costs as the company’s go-to strategy for bringing its product portfolio to these channels is to take products that have established its brands that have obtained doctor’s recognition before putting them out in the retail market. This means that retail consumers usually have brand recognition by way of prior prescriptions from doctors.


iii. Presence as a channel integrator promotes business longevity. Hyphens pharma is able to preserve business value by engaging in high-value functions within the value chain. This grants them with the ability to command higher margins while outsourcing manufacturing and logistics activities to third parties to ensure an asset-light business operation.

As of FY19, plant, property and equipment and right-of-use assets only make up 7.4% of Hyphens asset, allowing Hyphens to pursue growth strategies such as acquiring more brands to expand its product portfolio or downstream distributors to widen their footprint across different sales channels to generate more sales. 


Financial Highlights and Forecasts

Revenue: Hyphens Pharma have seen revenues grow at a CAGR of 8.8% between FY15 – FY19, with a reversal observed in FY19 (-1.2% YoY) as a result of heightened sales in FY18 in anticipation of licensing renewals in anticipation of license renewals in FY19 for some of its specialty pharma products. We expect revenues to grow between 10 – 11% over the next 3 years, driven by both specialty pharma and proprietary brands segments. Expansion of product portfolio including the recent product launch of Ceradan® Gentle Cleanser and Ceradan® Hand Lotion Sanitiser, as well as deeper penetration of the retail market through both online and offline channels, will contribute to the robust revenue growth.


Margins: Gross profit margin improved from 32.8% in FY17 to 33.7% and 35.7% in FY18 and FY19 respectively. This was largely attributable to the increased contribution from the specialty pharma principals and proprietary brands segments, which command higher margins when compared to the medical hypermart and digital segment. We expect margins to stabilise around 34 – 35% moving ahead.


Balance Sheet: with strong cash position

Cash-flow: A strength of Hyphens’ business model is the minimal capital expenditure required in the business. PPE only make up only 7.4% of total assets in FY19. With minimal capex required for business activities, FCF yield in FY19 stands at 7.5% based on current prices. High FCF allow Hyphens to keep a lookout for potential acquisitions that can further expand its footprint within the value chain.

Dividends: Hyphens Pharma distributed dividends of one Singapore cent per share for FY19, representing a payout ratio of 46% in FY19. Moving forward, the Company intends to distribute dividends of at least 30% of the Group’s net profits attributable to shareholders. We believe the dividends of one Singapore cent per share will be sustainable, representing a modest yield of c.2 – 2.5%.


Risk and mitigations

Dependence on relationships with brand principals for specialty pharma portfolio. Licensing agreement with brand principals is key to the success within the segment, which contributes to more than 50% of its revenue historically. As such the loss of such agreements as a result of non-renewal or early termination may result in the loss of key revenue sources.

By establishing itself within the regional as a reputable distributor, Hyphens Pharma is able to maintain healthy and longstanding working relations with brand principals, allowing for the longevity of exclusive distributorship of products within the portfolio.  

Loss of demand from delayed product registrations and renewals. Product registration with relevant authorities is required before products can be sold within the various markets. These licenses to sell within a market typically expire within two to three years and require renewals.

However, due to regulatory backlog at times, licenses registrations and renewals face the risks of non-timely renewals which may put product off the market while awaiting approvals. Hyphens Pharma mitigates the risks by working with downstream partners to sufficiently stock sales channels to and to ensure no loss of demand.

Competition with other brand principals for proprietary brands portfolio. While proprietary brands grant higher margins to Hyphens Pharma, there is strong competition within its product portfolio segments of health supplements and dermatology. As such, recognition of efficacy in products through granting of patents will be testament to quality and reliability of its product portfolio, especially amongst medical practitioners.



We initiate coverage on Hyphens Pharma with an ACCUMULATE rating and at a target price of S$0.435 derived from a discounted cash flow model with the following assumptions:

  1. Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC) of 7.2%
  2. Terminal growth rate of 1.5%

The target price of $0.435 suggests a forward PE ratio of 18.99x which is favourable when benchmarked against the industry average of 24.21x. Hyphens Pharma’s Return-on-Equity of 16.66% is also higher than the industry’s 8.47% with a comparable dividend yield of 2.38% to the industry’s 2.28% (Figure 11).



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