MSCI has announced to reclassify Pakistan in the MSCI Emerging Market Index in its Annual Classification Review, with a proforma weight of 0.19% (amongst the lowest in the EM group). Pakistan’s leading brokerage house, AKD Securities estimates gross passive inflows of US$500 million upon formal inclusion.
While benefits to derive are numerous, increased foreign visibility and participation particularly amid continuous foreign selling (CYTD net FIPI outflow of US$36.4 million) along with potential multiple re-rating (PSX-100 index traded at an average P/E multiple of 10.2x over 2006-08 while included in the EM space) are likely to be the most profound.
Despite rallying by 8% since May’16 in anticipation of a favorable decision, brokerage house believes the reclassification announcement is likely to make room for a further continuation of the recent bullish momentum with select stocks (included in the MSCI EM index) leading from the front. PSX-100 Index can statistically gain 15 to 20 percent surpassing 43,000 level over the next 12 months.
It is widely quoted that up to US$1.6 trillion is benchmarked to the MSCI EM Index (including both active and passive). A proforma weight of 0.19% should result in Pakistan attracting at least US$3 billion in both active and passive flows. Assuming passive investment constitutes 15 to 20 percent of overall funds benchmarked to the MSCI EM Index, roughly US$500 million in gross passive inflows into Pakistan can be expected upon formal inclusion.
While Pakistan is now set to compete with EM economies, brokerage house remains optimistic on Pakistan’s attractiveness in the index backed by a promising macro environment. Favorable macro trends (decade low inflation and interest rates coupled with external stability) support Pakistan’s economic growth trajectory. Major growth themes are 1) spurring industrial activity and consumer demand, 2) investment in infrastructural development and energy generation, likely boost GDP growth above 5 percent over the medium term. With positive implications for corporate profitability, strong consumer demand and development initiatives are now reflecting into robust topline of Cements, Paints, Glass, Automobiles and Food Producers (excluding sugar).
Wary of continuous selling pressure, brokerage house sees Pakistan’s reclassification into the MSCI EM index as a key confidence booster for the market. However, the latent risks exist in the form of: 1) political, both domestic and foreign policy related and 2) Brexit can cause turbulence due to heightened risk aversion of global investors.