Sunday, January 25, 2015
 
Follow sptimesonline on Facebook Follow sptimesonline on Twitter Follow sptimesonline on RSS Download APP
MOST READ



PARTNER NEWS


Legendary Porcelain Artworks for Your Home
The Gift Projects online showroom...


BLOGS



OPINION



WHERE TO GO?

19th Century Portraits

History of St. Petersburg Museum: Rumyantsev Mansion

The Kublitsky-Piotukh Family

Alexander Blok Apartment Museum

 

Перевести на русский Перевести на русский

Russian Stocks: Potential Windfall or Disaster

‘Russian stocks are currently trading cheaper than half of their book net asset value...’

Published: May 23, 2014 (Issue # 1812)



  • Gazprom claimed to have become the world’s most profitable company after releasing its 2013 IFRS financial statements.
    Photo: Sergei Porter / Fotoimedia

Foreign participants of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum should give the Russian stock market a closer look. According to analysts, Russian companies are now massively undervalued, presenting a huge opportunity to investors brave enough to grab it.

“Russian stocks are currently trading cheaper than half of their book net asset value, levels not seen even in troubled Egypt,” said Martin Graham, chairman of London-based Oracle Capital Group and former head of the London Stock Exchange’s AIM international market.

There seem to be more reasons than ever to avoid Russian stocks — Russia’s confrontation with the West over Ukraine risks spilling over into damaging sector-wide economic sanctions; Russian growth has stalled to near zero; and the old bugbears of corruption, arbitrary courts and poor corporate governance have gone nowhere. But given the incredibly low price of Russian stocks, logic may in fact err on the side on investing.

Take state-controlled gas firm Gazprom, Russia’s biggest company. Releasing its IFRS financial statements for 2013 last month, Gazprom said it had surpassed China’s Petrochina and the U.S.’ ExxonMobil and Apple to become the most profitable company in the world by EBITDA, earning a little over 2 trillion rubles ($58 billion) last year.

But despite this, Gazprom stock is trading at a price-earnings ratio of less than three. On May 21, the company had a market capitalization of $99.6 billion.

Russian companies are chronically undervalued, according to Graham: “In terms of earnings Russian stocks are traded up to four times cheaper than other emerging markets, while providing the shareholders with four percent dividend yield, among the highest globally,” he said.

The government has been trying to reverse the negative perceptions giving investors cold feet for years, with the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg being one of the prime examples of the effort. But while the spat over Ukraine has stoked anxiety, the overall trend was set long time ago.

“Geopolitical risk perceptions driven by the Ukraine crisis have contributed to low valuations. But even before the Ukraine crisis, Russian equities declined because of slowing economic growth and corporate governance risks, in particular in state-controlled companies,” said Dmitry Alimov, founder and managing partner of Frontier Ventures, a venture fund investing in Internet companies.

One of the effects of this unwillingness to buy Russian shares is to make the government more reluctant to privatize its assets. For instance, Russian flagship airline Aeroflot has repeatedly delayed its privatization, citing low valuation and market volatility. In December, Aeroflot’s CEO Vitaly Savelyev told Bloomberg that the company’s shares are about 40 percent undervalued.

Even Russia’s Internet and technology sectors, whose companies have traded better than other firms, currently trade at substantial discounts to pre-crisis levels, according to Alimov. Shares in Yandex, Russia’s leading internet search engine, plunged in early March, when the State Duma gave President Vladimir Putin permission to use military force in Ukraine. They then plummeted again in late April, when Putin hinted that Yandex had been subject to unfriendly influence by foreign powers, though the company has recovered some of the looses since.

The relentless downward trend cannot continue for ever. At some point, valuations will fall far enough to make investors reassess the market.

“Russia was abnormally cheap even before the Ukrainian events, we see it as a sign of an oversold market. If Russian stocks’ discount to emerging market peers squeezes at least by half, this could lead to over 50 percent growth from current levels,” said Ghaham.

“The key unknown in this picture, however, is the timing,” he added.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Jan. 25


Get out your running shoes for the 46th International Road of Life Marathon. Dedicated to the end of the blockade, three runs are offered — 5, 21 and 42 kilometer runs — starting in different places outside the city. Busses leave from 13/1 Arsenalnaya Naberezhny at 8 a.m. but check complete details and registration fees on www.newrunners.ru/race/doroga-zhizni-2015



If you are planning a wedding, head over to the Azimut Hotel, 43/1 Lermontovsky Prospekt from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The day includes live music, free dance classes and vendors selling wedding dresses, accessories, cakes and services to help make your special day perfect. Admission is free.



Monday, Jan. 26


Feeling stressed by the crisis? The Northwest Coach University at 3 Ulitsa Vostsstanaya is hosting a master class by lifecoach Tatiana Almazova. She will shed light on the coaching process, the usefulness of coaching during times of economic downturn and how coaching can improve your career and business prospects. The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Pre-register by calling 424 3700.



Discover the State Hermitage Museum's collection of English painting at a lecture by art historian Yelizaveta Renne at the Prince Galitzine Library, 46 Nab. Reki Fontanki. The event starts at 6 p.m. and the lecture will be followed by a concert of arias, songs and duets by English composer Henry Purcell. The event is free of charge.



Tuesday, Jan. 27


Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.







Times Talk