Tag Archives: Investment in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan stocks hit over 3-month high; bluechips lead

DIMANTHA MATHEW, HEAD OF RESEARCH AT FIRST CAPITAL HOLDINGS PLC, SPEAKS TO REUTERS

FEBRUARY 22, 2018

COLOMBO, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended higher for a fifth straight session on Wednesday led by bluechips on hopes of political stability after two key parties decided to remain in the ruling coalition, allaying fears of a government collapse.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.32 percent firmer at 6,598.73, its highest close since Nov. 6, 2017.

“Interestingly, we saw some buying interest in blue chips and especially foreign interest is picking up,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.

“Now that things are settling down, buying interest in bluechips is improving with continued retail buying.”

The two key coalition parties that were routed in a local election last week, sparking concerns of political instability, on Wednesday told the parliament that their government will continue.

Turnover stood at 829.4 million rupees ($5.35 million), marginally below the year’s daily average of 849.4 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 171.6 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday, extending net foreign buying to 5.8 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Shares in Dialog Axiata Plc ended 0.7 percent higher, while conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc gained 0.5 percent. The biggest-listed lender, Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc, closed 1.5 percent firmer.

The index dropped 0.13 percent last week, ending a three-week winning streak. ($1 = 155.1500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Vyas Mohan)

Sri Lankan stocks end at over 3-month high on hopes of political stability

DIMANTHA MATHEW, HEAD OF RESEARCH AT FIRST CAPITAL HOLDINGS PLC, SPEAKS TO REUTERS

FEBRUARY 21, 2018

COLOMBO, Feb 20 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended higher for a third straight day on Tuesday on hopes of political stability after the prime minister decided to stay in office and reshuffle his cabinet in the wake of a stinging loss in local elections for both parties in the ruling coalition.

The coalition parties held a cabinet meeting on Tuesday and said the island nation’s government plans to continue their tenure.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party (UNP) and President Maithripala Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) were routed by a party backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in local polls on Feb. 10, plunging the government into a crisis.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.19 percent firmer at 6,577.84, hitting their highest close in more than three months.

“With signs of stability coming in, investors are re-entering the market. Foreign investors are also returning slowly,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research, First Capital Holdings.

Turnover stood at 860.2 million rupees ($5.54 million), in line with the daily average of 850 million rupees.

Foreign investors bought a net 72.3 million rupees worth of shares on Tuesday, extending the net foreign buying to 5.6 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year.

Shares in Ceylon Cold Stores Plc ended 5 percent higher, while conglomerate John Keells Holdings Plc closed up 1.2 percent, Vallibel One Plc ended up 7.9 percent and the biggest-listed lender Commercial Bank of Ceylon Plc ended 0.7 percent firmer.

The index dropped 0.13 percent last week, after marking three straight weekly declines.

$1 = 155.3500 Sri Lankan rupees Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Sri Lankan stocks steady in dull trade; political woes weigh

DIMANTHA MATHEW, HEAD OF RESEARCH AT FIRST CAPITAL HOLDINGS PLC, SPEAKS TO REUTERS

FEBRUARY 20, 2018

COLOMBO, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares ended steady on Monday in thin trade amid political uncertainty after both parties in the ruling coalition suffered defeats in a local election earlier this month.

Turnover stood at 288.4 million rupees ($1.9 million), well below the daily average of 849.7 million rupees.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.03 percent firmer at 6,565.63, its highest close since Feb. 9.

Shares in Melstacorp Ltd rose 7 percent, while Trade Finance Plc gained 16.8 percent.

The index fell 0.13 percent last week, after gaining for three straight weeks.

“Very slow day as investors are waiting for political direction after the election debacle,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Holdings.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party (UNP) and President Maithripala Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) were routed by a party backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in local polls on Feb. 10, plunging the government into crisis.

Since the results, both parties have locked horns on how best to continue in the government. Sirisena’s party wants to form its own government, his party ministers have said, while Wickremesinghe’s party has said it is in the process of forming its own government.

Wickremesinghe, addressing the media on Friday said that the government will continue with a reshuffle of the cabinet.

Foreign investors bought a net 20.7 million rupees worth of shares on Monday, extending the net foreign buying to 5.5 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ($1 = 155.3000 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

SL: Walking a tightrope

Sunday Times | 18. 02. 2018

Last week’s topsy-turvy local government election result has triggered uncertainty in whether the authorities will pursue with the IMF-led, painful but crucial economic reforms. At the Colombo stock market, normally the first sector to react to political developments, share prices fell but were seen, cautiously rallying.

Speaking to the Business Times, economists, stock market analysts and senior government officials, agreed that foreign investment and economic reforms would be affected in the short term.

“Some outflows were seen in most foreign traded blue-chip counters over the last few days following the elections. However, after the initial downtrend, the market is settling down as the political circles are also settling down,” said Dimantha Mathew, Head of Research at First Capital Holdings PLC.

It is widely believed that the government’s reversal at the poll was because it failed to respond to growing frustration in the rural countryside on issues like prolonged droughts, costly fertilizer and rising living costs. The glyphosate ban was a big issue among tea smallholders in the south.

Acknowledging these issues, a senior Finance Ministry official said the government will have to regain the confidence of masses by increasing welfare measures and giving handouts in the face of upcoming provincial council and general elections. “The Treasury has been sucked into a process of ‘funambulism’ (tight-rope walking) under the present circumstances,” he said, stressing on the word ‘funambulism” to explain the government’s dilemma.

While welfare measures amidst a massive debt burden, cash flow problems with dwindling revenue and foreign direct investment (which could be less than target), is a recipe for disaster, the government has a daunting task of balancing the sentiment of the people and fulfilling its promise to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the official said explaining the crisis.

Economics Prof. Sirimal Abeyratne from the Colombo University believes the election verdict is a result of an administration not doing anything substantial for the past three years. “It was even clear from the sluggish economic performance. The election result has added more to the uncertainty; investors are likely to extend their wait and see’ attitude further,” he said.

The need for political stability for accelerated growth and foreign investment inflows was also espoused by Central Bank (CB) Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy when he met journalists on Thursday.

He warned that Sri Lanka’s economic consolidation risks losing its current momentum if political instability continues but noted that economic reforms and other monetary policy measures “will have to continue” in accordance with the CB’S 2018 roadmap.

First Capital’s Mr. Mathew said that since there were signs (as of Friday) that there is unlikely to be any major change (in the coalition government), foreigners are likely to return to the market but at a much slower pace compared to the aggressive pace witnessed during the January 2018 when the market was on overdrive.

“The primary reason for this (slower pace) is some doubts being created whether the Government can still go ahead with some of the tough reforms that lies ahead as part of the IMF agreement,” he noted.

How would the IMF react if reforms are put on hold or slowed down? Prof. Abeyratne believes donor approaches are different. “They always work cordially and collaboratively with the governments. Even though they do not approve subsidies and handouts, they may not confront it unless we (desperately) want IMF help,” he explained.

The government is confronted with a dual approach of pursuing reforms while also providing some handouts. “You can always postpone the issues by sweeping these under the carpet. In such an instance even without any help from the government, the economy will move slowly and become resilient to the shocks at the end of the day,” Prof. Abeyratne said.

After a meeting of the Monetary Board, the CB decided to continue its policy of keeping interest rates high to reduce consumption, a decision which appears to have worked against the Government’s popularity.

Several businesses have been struggling with high interest rates which has affected the cost of funds and forced an increase in the prices of goods which in turn triggered a drop in demand. These mostly, wholesale traders have been trapped in a web of payments, borrowing from banks and then borrowings from money-lenders to pay off debt.

On the future of FDI, Mr. Mathew said they expect a slowdown in the first quarter of 2018 as investors wait and see whether the Government will go ahead with the economic reforms, specifically the (fuel) pricing formula which is due in March.

He said the initial expectation that FDIs may beat last year’s figure as well as reach about US$2.5 billion would be a tough call with the latest developments.

Amanda Lokugamage, Senior Research Analyst at First Capital Holdings, with the Market Review on Ada Derana – 18.02.2018

Investment in Sri Lanka

First Capital’s Amanda Lokugamage with the Market Review on Ada Derana

The comments on this report are provided by the Capital Markets Research Unit of First Capital Holdings PLC an investment bank in Sri Lanka.

The company operates in the capital markets of Sri Lanka in government securities – treasury bills and bonds, stock brokering and share market investments, asset management, private wealth management, retirement planning, personal financial planning, unit trust, margin trading, capital market research, trustee services, corporate finance advisory services including corporate debt structuring (debentures, trust certificates, commercial papers), valuations, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings (IPOs) and project advisory.

The First Capital Group consists of First Capital Treasuries PLC, First Capital Limited, First Capital Markets Limited, First Capital Asset Management Limited and First Capital Equities (Private) Limited covering Colombo, Negombo, Matara, Kandy and Kurunegala.

Sri Lankan stocks end higher on retail buying

DIMANTHA MATHEW, HEAD OF RESEARCH AT FIRST CAPITAL HOLDINGS PLC, SPEAKS TO REUTERS

FEBRUARY 16, 2018 

COLOMBO, Feb 15 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares recovered on Thursday, following two straight sessions of losses, on retail buying after the central bank held key policy rates steady amid signs political uncertainty was easing, dealers said.

The central bank’s decision was widely expected, with policymakers emphasizing the need to support an economy that has been beset by production disruptions due to massive intermittent floods and prolonged drought last year.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.32 percent firmer at 6,553.21, hovering near its highest close since Nov. 8 hit on Friday.

The index gained 0.8 percent last week, its third straight weekly rise.

Shares in Melstacorp Ltd rose 2.8 percent, while Ceylinco Insurance Plc ended 6.7 percent higher and Aviva NDB Insurance Plc gained 25 percent.

“Today, there was retail and high net-worth interest on insurance sector and it was mainly retail driven,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Holdings.

“Foreign investors were worried with the continued political uncertainty and delaying to see some settlement will create more uncertainty in the market,” he said, referring to a decision that could end the political instability.

Analysts, however, said they see some positive signs as both the ruling coalition parties are in talks to end the political impasse, with President Maithripala Sirisena expected to make a statement possibly on Friday.

The ruling coalition government of Sirisena’s center-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s center-right United National Party suffered defeats in a local election over the weekend.

Since the results, both parties have locked horns on how best to continue in the government.

Investors are waiting for some stability and to see where coalition partners are headed, analysts said.

Turnover stood at 878.1 million rupees ($5.67 million), well below last year’s daily average of 915.3 million rupees.

Foreign investors sold a net 2.3 million rupees worth of shares on Thursday, but have been net buyers of 5.4 billion rupees worth of equities so far this year. ($1 = 154.8500 Sri Lankan rupees) (Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Biju Dwarakanath)

Sri Lankan stocks fall on political uncertainty after local polls

DIMANTHA MATHEW, HEAD OF RESEARCH AT FIRST CAPITAL HOLDINGS PLC, SPEAKS TO REUTERS

FEBRUARY 14, 2018

COLOMBO, Feb 14 (Reuters) – Sri Lankan shares fell for a second straight session on Wednesday as political uncertainty after a defeat of the two ruling coalition parties in a local poll hurt investor sentiment.

The ruling coalition government of President Maithripala Sirisena’s centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s centre-right United National Party suffered defeats in a local election over the weekend.

The results also raised concerns over the future of the unity government amid pressure from the opposition parties to dissolve the parliament.

The two ruling parties have set up a committee on Tuesday to examine the future of the unity government.

The Colombo stock index ended 0.16 percent lower at 6,532.26, further slipping from its highest close since Nov. 8 hit on Friday.

The index gained 0.8 percent last week, its third straight weekly rise.

Shares in Bukit Dhara Plc fell 7.6 percent while Hemas Holdings Plc fell 0.3 percent and Hatton National Bank Plc ended 1.6 percent weaker. Biggest listed lender, Commercial bank of Ceylon Plc, lost 1.8 percent.

“The market is negative with the continued political uncertainty,” said Dimantha Mathew, head of research at First Capital Holdings.

“Delay in settlement is creating more uncertainty,” he said, referring to a decision that could end the political instability.

Investors are waiting for some stability and to see the direction in which both the coalition partners are headed.

Turnover stood at 654.7 million rupees ($4.22 million), well below last year’s daily average of 915.3 million rupees.

Foreign investors, however, bought a net 97.2 million rupees worth of shares on Wednesday, extending the year-to-date net foreign inflow to 5.4 billion rupees worth of equities.

Analysts also said the investors were waiting to see the central bank’s key policy rate announcement on Thursday, which is widely expected to remain unchanged.

Sri Lanka seen holding policy interest rates steady

ECONOMYNEXT| 14.02.2018

Sri Lanka’s central bank is likely to keep its key policy interest rates unchanged when it announces its monetary policy stance tomorrow owing to favourable macroeconomic conditions, a brokerage said.
The central bank is expected o keep its Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR) unchanged at 7.50% with inflation and private sector credit growth under control, First Capital said in a research note.

First Capital Research said it believes the inflation rate will moderate and foreign reserves will be maintained above Rs7.0 billion levels, equivalent to four months of imports.

Although private sector credit growth picked up by Rs61.6 billion in November 2017, after slowing down in October, First Capital said it believes overall credit is likely to continue to remain under check.

It forecast the February 2018 Colombo Consumer Price Index headline inflation to be at 5.1%.

“We believe inflation will be under control over the next 2-3 months while there could be some upward pressure towards 2Q2018.”

GDP growth below expectations: FCR Pre-policy analysis

Ceylon Today | 2018-02-14

Share Market Investment in Sri Lanka

First Capital Research (FCR) recently issued its Pre-policy analysis for 2018, which stated GDP growth for 3Q 2017 was lower than expected, growing by 3.3% YoY in the quarter.

Overall agricultural activities reported negative growth, mainly due to unfavourable weather conditions (severe drought and heavy rainfall) that prevailed during the last two years in many districts of the country.
During the third quarter of 2017, ‘Services activities’ continued to expand further by 4.3%, while ‘Industrial Activities’ recorded a marginal growth rate of 1.9%.

Credit Growth Increases
FCR upgraded private sector credit growth for 2017 from 14% to 16% in August 2017 amidst a likely increase towards the end of the year.

The private sector credit figure decelerated to Rs 41 billion in October 2017, prior to pickup by Rs 61.6 billion in November 2017. FCR believes overall credit is likely to continue to remain under check.

Inflation continues to slow down
CCPI-based headline inflation decelerated on a YoY basis to 5.8% in January 2018 (below the FCR estimate of 6.7%) from 7.1% in December 2017. NCPI-based inflation accelerated on a YoY basis to 7.7% in December 2017 from 7.5% in November 2017.
However, Core inflation remained under check, decelerating to 3.5% in January 2018 from 4.3% in December 2017.
FCR forecast February 2018’s CCPI headline inflation to be at 5.1%. They expect inflation to come under control over the next 2-3 months, while there could be some upward pressure towards 2Q 2018.

Official Reserves remain above US$ 7 billion
Sri Lanka’s forex reserves assets decreased by US$ 286 million to US$ 7.67 billion in January 2018, which was equivalent to about 4.5 months of imports, from Rs 7.96 billion in December 2017. The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) had net-purchased US$ 191 million from currency markets so far during 2018.
First Capital Research expects foreign reserves to maintain at US$ 7.0 billion, which is equivalent to 4 months import bill value.
CBSL Holdings brought down to zero

Year-To-Date, CBSL increased its holding in Government Securities marginally from Rs 2.55 billion in January 2018 to Rs 4.92 billion as at 12 February 2018. However, on 3 January 2018, CBSL holdings were seen increasing to Rs 120.05 billion, prior to settling at Rs 4.23 billion the following day.

Fed Rate Hike Expectations
Economists said the Fed will still pencil in three hikes for 2018 (March 2018, June 2018 and December 2018), but moved forward one of those projected moves to March 2018 from June 2018.

Expected Monetary Policy Stance
First Capital Research believes inflation rate to moderate, foreign reserve position to be maintained above Rs 7.0 billion levels, improve in credit growth and likely increase in GDP growth in 2018. Consideration of above favourable macroeconomic environment current monetary policy is appropriate and no change is required.
FCR expects the CBSL to keep Statutory Reserve Ratio (SRR) unchanged at 7.50%.

Amanda Lokugamage, Senior Research Analyst at First Capital Holdings, with the Market Review on Ada Derana – 11.02.2018

Invest in Sri Lanka

First Capital’s Amanda Lokugamage with the Market Review on Ada Derana

The comments on this report are provided by the Capital Markets Research Unit of First Capital Holdings PLC an investment bank in Sri Lanka.

The company operates in the capital markets of Sri Lanka in government securities – treasury bills and bonds, stock brokering and share market investments, asset management, private wealth management, retirement planning, personal financial planning, unit trust, margin trading, capital market research, trustee services, corporate finance advisory services including corporate debt structuring (debentures, trust certificates, commercial papers), valuations, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, initial public offerings (IPOs) and project advisory.

The First Capital Group consists of First Capital Treasuries PLC, First Capital Limited, First Capital Markets Limited, First Capital Asset Management Limited and First Capital Equities (Private) Limited covering Colombo, Negombo, Matara, Kandy and Kurunegala.