20 October 2016

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in October Rebound

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) this month swung into positive territory as investors sought safe haven stocks to hedge themselves against potential losses from an anticipated introduction of bond notes and the likelihood of government failing to pay for maturing Treasury Bills (TBs).

The industrial index resurged to breach the 100 point-mark for the first time since August 24, despite an absence of positive news for companies battling to recapitalise and turn around their fortunes.

Analysts said demand for stocks has been rising since government indicated that it had little fiscal space to pay maturing TBs, indicating that it would roll them over.

Analysts said there has been a switch from TBs since Finance Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, made the announcement in his Mid Term Fiscal Policy statement in September.

On the day that the bulls stormed the domestic bourse on October 5, the industrial index gained 2,13 percent to close at 101,09 points.

This marked a spell of positive trading that moved into Friday last week, when the benchmark index rose by 3,6 percent to 112,03 points.

The industrial index climbed further to 114 points on Monday, this week, with the mining index moving to 28 points

It had closed at 108,05 points the previous day.

The rise in the industrial index was on the back of gains in some heavy weights.

The ZSE's largest counter by market share, Delta Corporation, gained 4,17 percent on the day to close at 62,50 cents, while tobacco processor, BAT, advanced 2,87 percent to settle at 1,255 cents.

The 100-point-mark was benchmarked in February 2009 after the country embraced a multi-currency system, having given up the Zimbabwe dollar, which succumbed to hyperinflation.

Leading to the benchmarking of the bourse, trade on the equities market had been halted in 2008 as a consequence of the hyperinflation.

Towards the end of 2008, hyperinflation, estimated at 500 billion percent at the time, had caused nightmares to the authorities as they could not cope with the resurgence of zeroes on the domestic currency, which had the effect of pushing share prices beyond ZW$30 quadrillion in November 2008, causing computer systems to crash.

From February this year, bears began a rampage on the ZSE, forcing the industrial index to plunge below the psychological 100 points for the first time in seven years.

The mining index has been hovering around 26,61 points.

Analysts said the ZSE may remain like that for some time.

"It is now a sellers' market," said stock market analyst, Tapiwa Sibanda, of Trade Winds.

"The few sellers that are there are now dictating prices because there are only a few of them. Most of the liquid shares that can be sold are held by foreigners and these guys are not selling because they won't be able to repatriate their investments. People are buying shares because cash in the banks might be turned into bond notes any day.

"But why not buy shares when TBs are now being rolled over and there are high chances of defaulting on interest?" he said.

Companies whose share prices have rallied are in the league of blue chips, including Delta, which is well managed and has strong brands.

Delta has good cash generation capacity and is well capitalised.

There is also the financial services behemoth, Old Mutual, which many believe is a good store of value.

September had been a difficult period for the ZSE, which closed the month in the red, declining by 0,31 percent in market capitalisation to US$2,81 billion.

Analysts said this was a reflection of the tough economic environment.

Leading economist, John Robertson, said shares were plummeting because there were no prospects for profit in an environment with subdued foreign direct investment.

"Prospects of dividends being paid in this market are low because profitability is declining due to depressed demand caused by company closures. There is need for change to correct this decline, but unfortunately the government doesn't seem to realise this and there is no sense of urgency," said Robertson.

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