Pakistan Stock Market Comes Under Pressure

Trading at Pakistan Stock Exchange remained lackluster evident from benchmark index sliding by 1.7%WoW and closing the week at 48,156 points. The average daily trading volume also declined by 3.5%WoW to 248.7 million shares. The lack of investors’ interest can be attributed to political volatility and absence of market triggers. News flows for the week included: 1) SECP in its press release dated 29th March apprised that its constituted committee (for reviewing in‐house financing) had submitted a report which focused on introducing reforms in Margin Financing (MFS) to improve banks’ funding to investors through brokers, 2) GoP released total Rs505 billion (63% of total Rs800 billion allocated) inclusive of Rs122 billion from foreign aid, 3) GoP allowed PTA to auction a next generation mobile services (NGMS) license with a base price of US$295 million from the frequency spectrums left unsold in the previous two auctions, 4) NML announced selling of 40% stake of its auto assembling business to the Japanese giant Sojitz Corporation and 5) OGRA proposed an increase of POL products for April. Stocks leading the bourse include: SHEL, MTL, ASTL, and MEBL, whereas laggards were: HASCOL, AKBL, KEL, NML. Volume leaders were: BOP, ANL, KEL and ASL. Headline inflation is expected to guide expectations for monetary policy and may trigger a rally in banks. Additionally, the much awaited outcome of Panama case hearings could alleviate political pressures.

Circular debt and overdue receivables remain a usual element in cash strapped liquidity dynamics for the power sector. Taking a comprehensive approach, AKD Securities map the timeline of developments and quantum of circular debt build up since the one‐time clearance of Rs480 billion in June 2013. Its analysis show that in a large number of cases the GoP has been asked by independent arbitrators (foreign and domestic) and high courts to clear the pile‐up. This perception gains further strength based on increasing reliance on IPPs in power generation mix particularly in the backdrop of 10,663MW of gross capacity additions coming online by CY20. Also, with its political agenda hinging on resolving the prevailing power deficit of over 5,000MW, it is believed that a limited clearance of overdue payables to them is more likely. The Rs48 billion being claimed by 13 IPPs currently is a minor hiccup whereas IPPs with planned CAPEX outlays have increased pressure to free up liquidity tied in GoP receivables (case in point being HUBC where the room for leverage falls from Rs71.7 billion in FY16 to Rs27.8 billion in 1QFY17 and Rs1.8bn in 2QFY17).

Inconsistent with previous month’s improved performance, Pakistan’s exports remained lackluster in February 2017, declining by 8.0%MoM/8.6%YoY to US$1.64 billion. Total exports registered a decline across all segments, with highest impact coming from the heavyweight Food and Textile sectors amounting to US$318.9 million and US$995.3 million, sliding 12.7% MoM/24.6%YoY and 6.5%MoM/2.7%YoY respectively. On a cumulative basis, 8MFY17 textile exports were 1.6%YoY lower at US$8.23 billion, largely contributed by 9.2%YoY decline in the low value segment diluting the impact of 1.6%YoY growth in the value added segment. Contrary to expectations, inclusion in zero rated regime and recently announced export incentive package worth Rs180 billion (textile sector’s share estimated at close to 90%) has so far failed in generating positive momentum in export trend, giving way to fresh concerns regarding the export‐oriented industry’s competitiveness over regional players. Going forward, analysts expect textile exports to remain under pressure due to: 1) weak Chinese demand outlook and concerns of economic slowdown in the European Union following Brexit and 2) lack of currency competitiveness. Moreover, continuous rise in international and local cotton prices has also aggravated concerns about textile industry.

ASTL has recently raised its re‐bars prices per ton by Rs2,000 (up 2.5%) to Rs79,000 likely due to: 1) increase in scrap steel prices and 2) rise in Chinese re‐bar prices due to higher domestic demand as a result of improvement in Chinese property sector and continuous decline in steel production. The recent price increase is likely to improve the bottom line. That said, current re‐bar prices still remain below FY16 average of Rs83,000/ton resulting in reduced gross margin/earnings for FY17. While the upcoming expansion is to aid earnings growth, analysts believe the current price level is already reflects that.


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