Monday, 13 July 2009

Emerging markets trading at premium

Emerging markets probably have a better long-term growth potential than those in developed ones but at least some of that potential may already be in their stock prices. From Bloomberg:

The last time stocks in developing countries got this expensive was in October 2007, just before the MSCI Emerging Markets Index began a 12-month tumble that erased half its value.

The MSCI gauge trades at 15.4 times reported earnings, compared with 14 for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, according to weekly data compiled by Bloomberg. When developing nations last commanded a premium, the 22-country benchmark sank 54 percent in the next year.

Groupama Asset Management, Palatine Asset Management and Standard Life Investments say the disparity means investors are paying too much for shares from China to India to Brazil at a time when the global economy is contracting. MSCI’s emerging- market gauge is valued at 1.7 times its companies’ net assets after a 34 percent surge last quarter, the highest on record compared with the MSCI World Index of 23 advanced economies, which trades for 1.5 times, data compiled by Bloomberg show...

Developing nations led the worldwide rally in equities last quarter, with China’s Shanghai Composite Index adding 25 percent and India’s Bombay Stock Exchange Sensitive Index jumping 49 percent. The gains outpaced a 20 percent rise in the MSCI World and a 15 percent advance in the S&P 500.

The increase cut the dividend yield of the emerging-market gauge to 3 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for developed countries. MSCI’s emerging-market index fetches 1 times sales and 6.6 times cash flow, compared with 0.8 and 4.3 in the advanced gauge, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

There are some who justify the higher valuation in emerging markets though.

Emerging markets “should be more expensive,” said Le Coz, who helps oversee $28 billion as a member of the investment committee at Carmignac in Paris. “In the past, emerging markets were fragile. Today that’s not the case.”

That, though, sounds too much like the decoupling theory that was in vogue not too long ago.

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