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Arif Habib Limited issues ‘Pakistan Investment Strategy Report 2021’

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KARACHI: Arif Habib Limited (AHL) released its Pakistan Investment Strategy Report for 2021. During a virtual session with media, AHL reiterated the domestic equity market to be an attractive investment avenue and that it expects the KSE-100 Index to reach ~51,000-52,000 points by Dec’21.

Tahir Abbas, Head of Research, AHL, began the session providing an overview of the Strategy Report in which AHL states that fundamental economic recovery led by higher activity, stable outlook on the external sector, impressive corporate profitability, strong liquidity and prevailing attractive valuations are likely to ignite buoyancy in the bourse.

With the rollout of vaccines expected in the near future, AHL expects the opening up of global economies – a major trigger for the exports of Pakistan along with continuance of robust momentum of remittances which should lend further support to the external account. With Pakistan being a consumption-driven, import-dependent economy, it is expected that overall current account for FY21 will swing into deficit.The team further highlighted that deficits on the current account are not necessarily negative for the economy. AHL expects the deficit to be at a level that will be both, manageable as well as fruitful for the economy, contributing to recovery in GDP growth. Reserves are at highly comfortable levels (almost 3-year high), and together with market determined exchange rate, and stable external account position, AHL does not foresee any significant depreciation in the PKR/USD parity.    

Shahid Ali Habib, CEO, AHL, addressing the media said, “We cite low interest rate regime, along with government and State Bank’s incentives as key triggers for a continuation in the stark turnaround of activity in the manufacturing sectors. Earnings growth is expected at 17.6% during CY21, which is a 6 year high. The jump in corporate profitability is expected to be led by Cement, Automobile Assemblers, Textiles, Technology and Oil Marketing while attractive valuations in the Banking and Oil Exploration & Production sectors are likely to attract interest.” He further emphasizes “The recent supportive measures by SECP for digitalization of account opening are expected to lead towards increase in participation and number of investors in the market. Additionally, rise in valuations and higher activity in the stock market are likely to attract more companies for listing on the exchange in 2021.”

Furthermore, valuations in the bourse are at attractive levels. The KSE-100 Index is trading at a CY21 P/E of 7.0x – an 18% discount to historic average multiple of 8.5, while trading at a P/B of 1.0x – a 46% discount to historic average of 1.9x. Moreover, the index valuations are highly attractive when compared to the region as well: at a 56% discount to regional markets against average historic discount of 36%.

At the close of the session it was stated that AHL believes the SECP’s efforts for promoting the development of capital markets of the country have been commendable. Recent SECP approval of the framework for digital account opening is a big leap forward.Furthermore, the government’s efforts for enforcing stringent KYC-AML regulations across the country, have resulted in significant progress on the FATF front. AHL is confident that Pakistan will secure an exit from the FATF Grey List in February, which is likely to be a propelling force for foreign investment.

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