“The ASPI has gained 28% since our review in May 2012. However, the rise in stock prices of 13% in 2013 (by end of May) is slightly ahead of our expectations. Accordingly we expect a lower rate of appreciation of stock prices in 2013H2 compared to 2013H1. We remain optimistic regarding the prospects in the equity market in 2014 on the premise the interest rates would ease resulting in improved corporate profitability and attraction of investors to equities (from fixed income investments). Therefore, we maintain the bull-run would continue in 2014 to reach our ASPI target of 9,000,” NDBS said in its latest Sri Lanka Equities report.
“We expect a modest increase in profits of 10% to 15% for 2013. With the pickup in economic activity and lower interest rates we expect a robust growth in profits of 20% in 2014. According to our estimates, the broad market is currently trading at a forward P/E of 12x based on 2013 expected earnings. We feel it is attractively priced compared to the regional equity markets considering the optimism and growth expectations in Sri Lanka over the next two to three years,” NDBS said. It also said as expected the market interest rates have come down in most commercial banks by 100 to 200 basis points in May 2013.
“We expect the private sector credit growth to be lower at 15% in 2013 compared to 18% in 2012. The anticipated reduction in the losses made by state owned enterprises (SOEs) and the attempt to reduce budget deficit may contain the demand for credit from Government entities. However, due to the high debt service obligations in 2013 we expect robust Government borrowing,” the company said.
“Accordingly, we do not foresee further significant reductions in interest rates in the short term. Since the government debt service obligations are comparatively less in 2014 further reductions in interest rates could be expected by early 2014 (or late 2013),” NDBS added.
Noting that global bond and equities runs may slow down, the broking firm said the interest rates in USA were maintained at historical lows since 2011 to revive the economy. Therefore, the interest rates were exceptionally low in most parts of the world. Interest rates have gained since May 2013 with the assumption that USA would scale down quantitative easing programs in view of the improving economic conditions (continuing the program eternally was not sustainable).
The global equities which were on a run from 2012 slowed down significantly in May simultaneously. “We do not expect an increase in global interest rates to have a significant upward pressure on local interest rates since the domestic market interest rates are around 5% to 10% higher than global interest rates (and also because the capital account is not fully liberalised). Accordingly, only a steep rise in global interest rates would have an upward pressure on the domestic interest rates,” NDBS said.