US bond rate increase good for CSE; not so much for local bonds

FIRST CAPITAL’S  SENIOR RESEARCH ANALYST ATCHUTHAN SRIRANGAN, SPEAKS TO THE SUNDAY TIMES

Foreigners rally in cash at CSE

Despite being one of the poorest performing markets in the region, Sri Lanka’s stock market which has been in the doldrums has attracted a lot of foreign buying interest since of late.

This heavy investor participation stems mainly from the rate increase in the US bond market. While the rates going up is seeing foreign funds shifting back to the US from frontier markets such as Sri Lanka, a small component of their corresponding funds which invest in stock markets  are being ploughed into the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), analysts say.

There has been continuous foreign selling in local bonds and as at January 1, 2017 it was US$ 2 million.  The new regime under Donald Trump is trying to strengthen the US Dollar and luring back  funds  to the US.

Atchuthan Srirangan, Senior Research Analyst First Capital Equities noted that on the back of all this, this month’s foreign inflow at CSE was Rs. 600 million as at February 8. Mr. Srirangan said that in the year to date the total foreign participation so far is more than 50 per cent of CSE’s turnover, while for the same period last year it’s 38 per cent.

But why put cash in the CSE? 

That’s due to most shares at the CSE trading at 4x their price to Earnings Ratio (PER) which has made these bargain counters for foreign investors. Foreign fund managers say that CSE is a good investment this year owing to superior earnings projections, low valuations and the potential for better earnings.

From January 1 to 8 February, foreigners bought Rs. 7.67 billion and sold Rs. 8.63 billion. While the net outflow is Rs. 1.026 billion, analysts note that some foreign selling was done to foreigners themselves.

Analysts say that a considerable foreign play was done by Norway’s $830 billion sovereign wealth fund, locally managed by Lynear Wealth Management. The fund has been increasing its focus on emerging countries but only has about 4 per cent of its assets managed externally.   Negotiated deals were recorded in many counters early this month – mostly blue chips and mid-caps bought by foreign funds — Hatton National Bank (0.7 million shares at Rs. 227) and Commercial Bank (0.2 million shares at RS. 145). The aggregate value of crossings accounted for 45 per cent of the turnover. Subsequent to its scrip dividend announcement, Sampath Bank attracted high investor preference where stock price increased to Rs. 267 up by 0.8 per cent.

On February 2, foreign investors stood on the ‘buy’ side with a net foreign inflow of Rs. 90 million. Net foreign inflows were seen in Commercial Bank at Rs. 29 million, Sampath at Rs. 29 million, Melstacorp at Rs. 17 million while net foreign outflows was mainly seen in Seylan Bank (Rs. 5 million). Foreign participation was 66 per cent.

Hemas Holdings saw 2.8 million shares crossed at Rs. 104 on February 2. Its main buyer in 3Q17 was Morgan Stanley and Co: International PLC. But Franklin Templeton Investment Funds had reduced its position in Hemas during the same period.

Overseas Realty Rights Issue saw a 24 per cent acquisition by Jilansu Tao Shing Pee Education Foundation on February 3. Foreign investors were net buyers with a new foreign inflow of Rs. 27 million on this day and net foreign inflows were mainly seen in Sampath Bank Rs. 35 million, Melstacorp Rs. 13 million and Tokyo Cement non-voting Rs. 12 million. That following Monday foreign investor activity accounted for 47 per cent of the turnover.

The day after foreign investors stood on the ‘buy’ side with a net foreign inflow of Rs. 111 million. Net foreign inflows were seen in John Keells Holdings (JKH) Rs. 51 million, Hemas Holdings Rs. 30 million, and Nestle Rs. 28 million while net foreign outflow was mainly seen in National Development Bank Rs. 4 million. Foreign participation was 52 per cent that day. On February 8 foreign investors were net buyers with a net foreign inflow of Rs. 152 million. Net foreign inflows were seen in JKH (Rs. 103 million), Sampath Bank (Rs. 49 million) and Melstacorp (Rs. 10 million). Net foreign outflow was mainly seen in Hatton National Bank (Rs. 17 million). Foreign participation was 33 per cent.

On February 13, foreign investors were net buyers with a net foreign inflow of Rs. 333.33 million foreign participation was 61 per cent. Let’s hope this trend co continues.

 

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.