Big inflation spike in 2019

 The Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) reported that the annual inflation rate in Jamaica to December 2019, was 6.2 percent, a sharp increase from inflation over the last four years.
According to data from the Statin, inflation in 2018 was 2.4 percent, down from 5.2 percent in 2017. In 2016 the inflation rate ended at 1.7 percent and 3.7 percent in 2015, 6.4 in 2014 and 9.7 percent in 2013.
Jamaica’s Central Bank, in response to the sharp rise in the inflation for the year, stated, the outturn “represents a sharp jump when compared with the 3.4 percent recorded in September 2019. This inflation outturn was not anticipated and was higher than the Bank of Jamaica’s target of 4.0 to 6.0 percent.”
The release from Bank of Jamaica, stated, “the higher inflation rate was primarily influenced by faster increases in food and energy-related prices in the consumer price index (CPI). The heavily weighted Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages division of the CPI increased over the year to December by 10.7 percent, when compared with 6.7 percent in September 2019. This was primarily related to higher prices for vegetables and starchy foods, the consequence of adverse weather conditions (drought followed by heavy rains) that affected the Island between June and October 2019.

BOJ interest cuts overnight rate.

There was also news of crop-related diseases affecting some items. Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas & Other Fuels reflected higher rates for electricity and water, which was partly related to increases in international oil prices in the December 2019 quarter. This division increased over the year to December to 1.5 percent, compared with a decline of 3.2 percent in September 2019.”
The release continues, “despite the higher headline inflation, underlying inflation, which excludes the immediate influence of agriculture and energy prices, remained stable and below 3.0 percent. At the end of  December 2019, the annual rate for this measure was 2.9 percent, which was unchanged compared with the rate in September 2019. This underscores that the Jamaican economy continues to reflect some slack with economic growth below its potential. It also highlights that the jump in inflation is likely to be temporary as expected tempered movements in agricultural prices dampen inflation over the next three to six months.”

Unemployment drops below 100K

The number of unemployed persons in October 2019 fell under 100,000 to 96,700, with a fall of 19,000 persons after 29,200 persons were employed over October 2018 and moving the number of employed to 1.248 million persons.
The development in Jamaica’s labour market saw the country’s unemployment rate hitting the lowest level in record history at 7.2 percent down from 8.7 percent for October 2018 and 7.8 percent in July last year.
The occupation group ‘Clerks’ had the most significant increase in employment of 17,700 persons for the twelve months to October. The second-highest increase was for the occupation group ‘Service Workers and Shop and Market Sales Workers’, which increased by 13,900.
The largest change in employment by industry group was in ‘Public Administration and Defence; Compulsory Social Security’ which increased by 10,800 persons, moving from 60,300 in October 2018 to 71,100 in October 2019. Employment in Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing declined by 6,500 workers.

Lousy 2019 for Junior Market stocks

Junior Market trades

Junior Market did not end 2019 with glory splashed all over it with the market for small and medium-size companies, gaining just 3.1 percent in 2019, down from 18.8 percent in 2018 and 24.3 percent in 2017.
While the premier stocks rose appreciably in 2019, stocks on the Junior Market faltered in its performance in 2019, with the price of only one stock listed on the market at the end of 2018 doubling in value in 2019 and another coming close, with a rise of 97 percent. The Junior Market that saw a half of its listings declining in the year had just four stocks gaining over 100 percent. Three new listings in the Junior Market occupied the top three positions.  Fontana, pharmacy operators, was the top performer and closed the year at $7.30 with a rise of 288 percent on the expectation that the new store at Waterloo Road that opened in the December quarter, will boost income and profit in the 2020 fiscal year. The second-best performer, the advertising and production company – Limners and Bards, was listed in summer and delivered a 200 percent increase for investors who bought the stock at the IPO stage. The recently listed MailPac Group, with gains of 111 percent from the IPO price of $1 took up the number three position.
Honey Bun fresh from the expansion of its bakery operations and a 20.4 percent growth in revenues in the September quarter and profit after tax rising 67 percent for the full 2019 fiscal year, doubled in price with a 103 percent increase. Elite Diagnostic is the sole Junior Market stock from the 2018 TOP 10 to remain in the TOP 10 in 2019. tTech 6th worse performer in 2018, made it to the 2019 Top 10 in the eight position. Jetcon Corporation, the number 9 worse performer and GWest Corporation at number 10 in 2018 again ended in the worse ten performing stocks in 2019, in fourth for GWest and 10th position for Jetcon.
One major reason for the divergence for the performances of the Main Market and the Junior Market is to be found it the valuation multiple for both markets.
While both markets close 2018, with PE ratios around 16 times 2018 earnings the market moved decidedly in different paths with Main Market stocks approaching PE ratio around 20 leaving the Junior Market at just over 14.

Gains fin the Junior Market peaked at 12.8% on August 14 and drifted down since.

Interest rates, in Jamaica, fell again in 2019, with Treasury bill rates that started the year at just over two percent falling to 1.5 percent by year-end. This single move would have encouraged institutional investors to switch focus from money market instruments to stocks. The stocks they would have gone into would be the more established Main Market stocks rather than Junior Market ones. Added to that factor, is the fact the with increased IPOs into the market many individual investors sold stocks to buy into the new issues, leaving less money available for previously listed stocks.

9 JSE Main Market stocks double in 2019

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Last year was a mixed one for investors in the Jamaican stock market. On the one hand, Investors in Main Market stock enjoyed gains of more than 30 percent for the second year in a row, but Investors in Junior Market Stocks had far less to cheer about with a market rise of 3 percent.
Ten JSE Main Market stocks doubled in price in 2019 with the Jamaica Stock Exchange ordinary share leading the group with a gain of 177 percent with the Main market rising 34.3 percent for the year, upon the 31.7 percent rise in 2018.
VM Investments rose 120 percent to hold down the number two spot followed by Sygnus Credit InvestmentsWisynco Group and Radio Jamaica. All three ended up on the worse 10 performing stocks in 2018 along with Proven Investments, the 10th best performer in 2019, with a 93 percent gain. Palace Amusement stock gained 100 percent, in 2019 and is the only 2018 TOP 10 stock to reappear in the top 10, in 2019. In 2018, it came in at number 3 best performing stock, compared to eight position in 2019. Palace has a remarkable record of more than doubling in each year, from 2016 to end in the TOP 10 for all of them

MailPac set to jump

MailPac shares were listed on Wednesday and closed at $1.32 for a rise of 32 percent, with less than 49,373 units traded.
The most recent information has the highest buying price at $1.72 for 305,000 shares, followed by 73,247 shares at $1.70 a lot of 26,388 units at $1.51 and 300,001 units at $1.50. At $1.49, there is buying for 60,357 units and at $140 to buy 4.37 million.
Selling starts at $1.35 with 24,092 shares, followed by 21,227 units at $1.44 and 21,227 at $1.45, with a total of 82 offers posted so far.
Trading in the early trading session on Thursday resulted in just 56,620 units changing hands at $2.10 at a PE ratio of 15. The maximum price that it can trade at for the day is $2.18. With the price movement to date, the stock has moved out of the IC Insider.com TOP 10 list.

5% of Proven shares traded

An investor picked up 31,265,399 proven shares in trading on the US market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange today, representing 5 percent of the total issued share capital of the company of 625,307,963 units.
The trades were executed at 31.55 US cents per share and cost US$9,864,233. The trades comprise a block of 21,374,171 shares with amounts in smaller denominations. Proven Investments’ record show Nekia Limited as the owners of the 21.37 million block and the second-largest shareholder.
The purchaser is unknown at the time of going to press, but Barita Investments subsequently announced that they acquired the block of shares that put them as the lead shareholder in the company. The move is consistent with realignments taking place within the dynamic Jamaican financial market.

BOJ sells US$40m into forex market

Bank of Jamaica sold US$40 million via B-FXITT to authorized dealers and Cambios to augment supply in the market on Tuesday.
“The factors behind the recent depreciation in the exchange rate are well known and Bank of Jamaica expects that these impulses will subside and that normalcy will return to the market. There has been an increase in demand for foreign currency due to the regular re-stocking by retailers for the Christmas season. Further, there has been extraordinary demand relating to portfolio transactions,” the central bank stated in a release today.
“Notwithstanding the recent depreciation, inflows into the foreign exchange market remained healthy. For October 2019, average daily inflow from earners was approximately US$31 million, in line with October 2018. However, driven by the factors noted above, demand has outstripped this supply,” the release went on to say.
The local currency moved in recent weeks and traded at $141.96 to one US dollar on average on Monday as dealers bought US$30.7 million at an average rate of $138.89 and sold $31.5 million at J$141.96 each. On Friday, dealers bought US$33 million at an average price of J$139.49 and bought US$30.2 million at J$141.89.

$45 for Barita Investments rights

Barita Investments headquarters

Barita Investments will offer 116,845,955 ordinary shares to its ordinary stockholders by way of a renounceable rights issue of 11 shares for each 100 own as of August 20.
The exercise price will be $45 per share with the last date for renunciation will be September 10. Shareholders will have up to September 15, to accept the amount of their offer but can apply for additional shares from amounts not taken up by allottees, up to September 20.
The current offer is the second rights issue to purchase additional shares in the company, in less than a year. The stock traded on the Jamaica Stock Exchange on Friday to close at $91.50, for a rise of 72 percent for the year to date. but it has gained 862 percent in the last twelve months, not including gains from the issue of rights in March.

August off with record breaking run for JSE

The Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange is up 52.35 points to cross over the 3,500 points level for the first time in the market’s history.
The move after an hour trading on Friday pushed the Junior Market Index to a record high of 3,514.89 points.  The JSE Main Index rose 5,119.76 points to a record of 528,859.86 and the All Jamaican Composite Index added 5,633.92 points to trade at 580,884.11.
The Limners and Bards the (Lab) traded at $3.65 to record a 265 percent gain since the IPO and the listing a week ago. Pulse Investments traded at $3.90 up from $3 at the close on Wednesday. General Accident trades at $4.90, Jamaican Teas rose to a record high of $7 from $5.65 on Wednesday and Caribbean Cream fell to $4.40 on limited volume.

Record high for junior Market

The Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange has gained 58 points to reach a record high of 3,442.41, after just over two hours of trading and is now above the record closing high reached on September 20, 2018, of 3,436.31.
The Lab traded at $3 to record a 200 percent gain since the IPO and the listing on Friday. There are currently 2.6 million units on the bid at $3 as investors bought 2.4 million so far.
Main Market stocks are also up, with the two main indices of the main market posting strong gains. The JSE Main Index rose 4,010.36 to 515,449.60 and the All Jamaican Composite Index added 4,413.11 points to trade at 566,127.10.