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04.04.2012 Business & Finance

Stocks to rally on GSE

By The B&FT
Stocks to rally on GSE
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Strong earnings results, pension-fund investments and a more positive global outlook should rally the stock market to a return of at least 15% in the first half of the year, according to a B&FT survey of analysts.

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) is forecast to ride on the momentum of its first quarter performance when its main composite index gained 8.03%, driven by financial equities which returned 5.5%.

“Our expectation is that the market return will exceed 15% by June, propelled mostly by the listed banks, which will in turn be supported by strong earnings numbers.

With the pension players given the green light, we believe that stock market activity will be further boosted --ceteris paribus,” Nii Ampa-Sowa, who heads research at Databank Financial Services Limited, said.

“The market has been performing very well so far, and we expect participation to go up. We're expecting a return of at least 15% by the close of the first half,” said analyst Yaw Adu-Koranteng at Gold Coast Securities Limited.

The market's recovery following a dip in 2011 has been helped by reported strong earnings results from banks and other sectors. Results of six listed banks showed their combined net profits increased by 19% to GH¢213.9million last year, with basic earnings per share going up on average by 11%.

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), the seventh listed bank and the biggest by assets, said last week it had been given a two-month leeway by the central bank and the securities-market regulator to publish its financials after it failed to meet the March 31st deadline due to a change of auditors.

GCB posted after-tax earnings of GH¢34.4million in the first half of 2011, up by 97% from GH¢17.5 million in the same period last year. Its assets rose to GH¢2.2 billion from GH¢1.9billion, with expanded medium-term investments offsetting a 57% contraction in the size of its loan-book.

“This is what investors are looking for -- that banks can maintain their consistent run of good results. This boosts investors' confidence, and generates additional capital from both new and existing shareholders,” said analyst Jeff Foli.

In 2011, the GSE beat a retreat from earlier gains due to what analysts said was the contagion-impact of the upheaval in global stock markets as the euro-zone crisis raged on. This situation caused an upsurge in the rate of redemptions from local stocks, taking a toll on prices.

Foli said a similar sort of effect is not implausible this year, given signs of a possible contraction in the euro area where unemployment has hit a record-high since adoption of the single currency. He added, however, that confidence from the US and Asia could give some balance to this outlook.

Pensions boost
In March, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority issued licences to 45 fund managers, trustees and custodians for the full take-off of the three-tier pension scheme.

The expected release of pension monies held at the central bank to licenced custodians and fund managers should give a boost to capital-market activities, as private equity managers and financial-services firms increase their investments on the back of inflows into their income-earning instruments, Yaw Adu-Koranteng projected.

He said market liquidity will also improve following a directive by the GSE to listed companies to raise their minimum issued shares to 100 million by the close of the year.

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