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PETALING JAYA: CGS-CIMB Research expects trading activity on Bursa Malaysia to remain volatile in the second half of the year (2H22) as market sentiment remains weak with potential further downside risks in the third quarter of 2022 (3Q22).
That is as investors worry about corporate earnings and try to price in the peak of the interest rate cycle by the Federal Reserve (Fed) which is trying to engineer a soft landing of the American economy that is facing inflationary pressures.
The brokerage noted the benchmark 30-stock FBM KLCI has fallen by 16% from its highs of 1,685 points in December 2020 after pricing in the earnings risks from a slowing global economy and political concerns and could go lower in the 3Q22 pricing in the next rate hikes by the Fed as well as lower commodity prices and higher costs due to rise in the minimum wage level.
“Thereafter, the market could be range-bound with potential upside if concerns over rate hikes or US recession risks subside and earnings risks for Malaysian corporates have been priced in.
“This could offer trading opportunities for investors looking for bargains in the stock market over the medium term,” CGS-CIMB Research said.,
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CGS-CIMB Research lowered its earnings estimates for the FBM KLCI to reflect its earnings downgrade for Top Glove Corp Bhd and MR DIY Group (M) Bhd. The research outfit now projects the market benchmark’s earnings to fall 0.1% in 2022 and rise 10.7% in 2023.
“This lowers our end-2022 FBM KLCI target to 1,506 points (from 1,568 points), on unchanged 12.9 times target price-to-earnings (2.5 standard deviation below three-year mean).
“We advise investors to take shelter in sectors with defensive earnings (utilities, telco, healthcare, consumers) and high dividend yields. We also like banks as beneficiaries of rising interest rates,” it stated.
CGS-CIMB Research noted the earnings of the FBM KLCI during the global financial crisis in 2008 fell by 8.7% due to the collapse in commodity prices and consumer sentiment before rebounding in 2009 while during the Covid-19 pandemic, earnings fell by 6.6%, due to a significant drop in demand caused by lockdown measures.
“Given the high inflation and rising risk of a US recession, there could be downside risks to our 2023 earnings growth forecast of 10.7%.
“If we assume that FBM KLCI earnings reflect a similar degree of decline as during the global financial crisis (i.e. minus 8.7%) abd Covid-19 (minus 6.6%), our FBM KLCI target falls to 1,213 and 1,245 points from the revised FBM KLCI target of 1,506 points.”