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Kenyan firms among top to watch in frontier markets


Investment brokers at the NSE. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Seven Kenyan firms have been listed among 100 companies in frontier markets that investors should watch keenly this year.

The guide by Citi Research, a division of Citigroup Global Markets Inc, lists Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) #ticker:KCB, Equity Group #ticker:EQTY, British American Tobacco (BAT) Kenya #ticker:BAT, Bamburi Cement #ticker:BAMB, Centum #ticker:ICDC, East African Breweries Limited (EABL) #ticker:EABL, and Safaricom #ticker:SCOM among the 100 firms’ investors should watch.

“About half of them (45) are covered by Citi Research analysts; for these we provide financial forecasts, valuations, and target prices. For the rest (55), we provide historical financials as well as information about the company and its strategy,” Citi analysts said.

Citi Research investment ratings are buy, neutral and sell. The firm has recommended a buy for KCB, and a neutral for EABL, Equity Group and Safaricom.

It however did not rate Bamburi Cement, BAT Kenya and Centum since they are not covered by its analysts.

The analysts have a positive outlook on frontier markets this year.

Their views are based on a supportive global environment of synchronised growth, firm commodity prices and normalising monetary conditions.

Strong or improving economic activity in most frontier markets, a pick-up in fund flows into frontier funds after a three-year drought — catalysed by higher inflows into emerging markets funds and increased stock issuance — have boosted liquidity and interest in the markets.

However, the analysts warn that high government debt levels, a downturn in global growth and rising equity valuations could be undermining factors.

This group of 100 companies from 28 countries and 11 MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) sectors represents Sh28 trillion ($280 billion) in total market cap.

They include more than half the market cap of the MSCI frontier markets index. The MSCI world index is a market cap weighted stock market index of 1,653 stocks from companies throughout the world.

Frontier markets are equity markets that do not meet the investment criteria to qualify for classification as either developed markets (DM) or emerging markets (EM) by index makers such as MSCI.

The reason for this exclusion is usually a lack of trading liquidity, but other obstacles to investibility such as market infrastructure and currency convertibility also play a role.

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