How the east was won?

Annmarie Vaz winner of the East Portland seat.

Anne Marie Vaz increased her party’s support by a stunning 58 percent, over the JLP’s haul in the 2016 General Election to win the East Portland by-election on Thursday with just 11 votes less than 10,000.
At the same time, Damion Crawford only pulled out 5 percent more votes than was polled for the PNP, in 2016. The story gets increasing bad for the PNP and it is not just in this election. The writing was on the wall for years but poor candidature, by the JLP lent the view to many onlookers, that East Portland was safe PNP territory. The 2007, results with the PNP winning by less than 800 votes, should have sent a clear warning to them that things were changing rapidly.
In this latest election, the number of new voters on the list, grew by 5.6 percent, but Crawford’s increase of 4.8 percent was less than the rise in registered voters. Looked at differently, he picked up just 354 votes more than in the 2011 elections or only 3.8 percent more. On a net basis, he garnered only approximately 25 percent of new voters, while Vaz got 75 percent. This is consistent with a pattern seen island wide since 1993 and is one that is not likely to change, anytime soon.
The Labour party was able to get out their 8,000 voters of 2011 and add 24 percent more voters to it, in addition to commandeering the vast majority of new voters, the vote tally at the end of the preliminary count suggests.
The results on the surface is a major about turn for the seat. Closer examination of the numbers for a longer period tells a clear tale. The huge 2019 increase is due to a below performance for the JLP in the 2016 elections, when the votes by the party sank by a hefty 22 percent and  well against the national trend. The trend since the 1993 elections, suggests that the natural growth in party support should have seen them polling over 9,700 votes, just below the numbers she got in the latest polls.
The data also points out that the trend is indicating that the JLP should have polled around 2,000 more votes than they did, this time around.  Those voters are there in their corner based on the growth in support, reflected in the average gains in votes cast in prior elections. This bit of information is also reflected in public opinion voting survey data.

Scotia Premium Growth up 37% in 2017

Scotia Investments was the top performing unit trust in 2017.

The Jamaica stock market enjoyed strong growth between 2015 and 2017 with several stocks recording more than 100 percent gains in each of the years. The vast majority of Jamaicans have not participated in the gains offered by the market.
The vast majority of Jamaicans have not enjoyed the benefits of investing directly in the stock market because they do not fully understand it while some are just scared to lose their money. Many investors have taken the hassle or concerns out of investing directly in stocks by investing in equity based unit trust schemes that have delivered better gains than those in the fixed income market.
For while the combined market index of the Jamaica Stock Exchange racked up gains of 43 percent in 2017, the top performing equity based fund, Scotia’s Premium Growth Fund recorded gains of 37 percent for their investors in 2017 on top of a 25 percent gain in 2016. The Scotia Fund displaced Barita’s Capital Growth Fund, the 2016 front runner that ended at number 6 in 2017, delivering a 21.5 percent return, down slightly from 26.7 percent in 2016
Many investors have benefit from the strong performance of the local stock market in a number of ways. Pension funds that a large number of Jamaicans are members of, hold shares of many companies on the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE). There are also insurance company funds that rely on the shares as part of their investment portfolios. The National Insurance Scheme also invests in these companies and many more Jamaicans benefit from the market’s performance than they may be aware of. Others persons invest through unit trusts to enjoy the growth in the market and thus lower their risk. How does this work?

Barita Unit Trust equity drop from #1 in 206 to 6th spot in 2017 with a gain of 21.5%

A unit trust is a pooled investment scheme that allows anyone without expert knowledge and time to invest in a diverse portfolios of most stocks, to invest in them and therefore benefit from the gains that the funds can deliver. The investments, which comprise local and foreign equities, bonds, corporate paper, government securities, real estate, among others, are professionally managed to optimize gains for the investor.
Investing in a unit trust is an attractive option as the portfolios are not only diverse but they also cater to those with or without an appetite for risk. A few of the benefits to be derived are tax free gains, depending on the portfolio, lower levels of market volatility given the mix of securities in each portfolio as well as other perquisites.
From year to year, the performance of investments in equity based unit trust funds may in part reflect the highs and lows of the economy, the percentage share of investments in the local stock market shares and fixed income funds. Most importantly, the management of the funds can make a big difference as can be seen from the varied performance of funds in Jamaica. Additionally, in recent years there have been new players entering the market and new products being offered, thereby creating greater diversity so as to capture new investors and a greater share of the market of the non-investing market.
At present, there are eight schemes managed locally, namely Barita Unit Trust, JMMB Fund Managers, JN Fund Managers, NCB Capital Markets, Proven Fund Managers, Sagicor Investments, Scotia investments Jamaica and  Victoria Wealth Management. All offer varied slate of funds denominated in Jamaican dollars and US dollars. Sagicor Investments has fifteen (15) portfolios, the most diverse of all, followed by Barita Unit Trust, JMMB and NCB, VM, Scotia and newcomer Proven.
Funds under management as at October 2017 stood at $229 billion with Sagicor still commanding the lion’s share with Scotia and NCB holding their double-digit portion while the others shared the remainder of the pie.
In the next article, IC Insider.com will look at the performance of the unit trust equities’ portfolio in 2017 compared to previous years to give investors a better view of the best performing funds.

Main market stocks can gain 40% in 2018

Chart of main market showing the market trading in an upward sloping channel with the market currently trading just below the upper resistance line.

Last year was a great one for Jamaican stocks but an assessment of the market suggests that 2018 could be a grand year as well with overall price gains likely to be in excess of 40 percent.
Based on projected earnings for 2018, the average PE ratio suggests that the main market stock prices should grow by 26 percent. Falling interest rates could add another 20 percent to gains during the year, bringing overall gains to be in excess of 40 percent.
Technical readings of the market have the main market heading initially to around 390,000 points or 23 percent ahead of the December close, for the all Jamaica Index, before resistance sets in, before moving much higher, later on.
Currently, the main market is caught in a wedge and trading just below the upper end of channel that can be traced to late 2015. The wedge could hold the market in consolidation mode for a short time, a month or two, before breaking out, most likely to the upside. (See Chart of market index.)
Last year was a great one for Jamaican stocks, with 14 of the 64 ordinary shares of companies that were listed prior to the December new listings, rising 100 percent or more and 16 rising between 50 and 81 percent.
IC Insider.com projects that many of the main market heavy weights will find it tough to repeat the strong gains they enjoyed in 2017, if that is the case, their impact on the market index is likely to be less than for 2017. Another factor that could make a repeat of 2017 tough, is the movement of interest rates. Last year, Treasury bill rates fell 29 percent from 6.56 percent to 4.83 percent, that level of decline, is unlikely to happen in 2018, even as some of the decline in the latter part of 2017 is yet to be fully reflected in the prices of stocks to date and should positively affect prices in 2018. IC Insider.com is forecasting rates on 182 days Treasury bill hitting 3 percent by the end of the 2018 first quarter. New listings could help move the indices in 2018, the likely impact is unknown at this point.
There are a number of other factors at play that are set to impact the market. Increasing employment is taking place with the highest number of persons employed in the country’s history. Attendant with that is the sharp fall in unemployment from more than 16.3 percent in 2013, to just over 10 percent in 2017. The annual net employment is growing around 30,000 persons per year and that could rise as the economy gains steam. This will mean more spending and increased tax collection for government. Alpart resumption of Alumina production is a big positive for the overall economy, for increased government revenues and more demand for local goods and services, some of which are provided by listed companies. The tourism sector is enjoying strong growth, apart from increasing foreign exchange intake for the country, will have direct impact on Jamaica Producers and Sagicor X Fund. Jamaica seems to be going through a construction boom with several new buildings under construction, Caribbean Cement and Berger Paints should benefit considerably from such developments.
Lower interest rates will reduce cost for many companies and revaluation of the Jamaican dollar also means lower cost but could result in lower revenues in some cases. More listings on the stock market will result in increased fee income for JSE and brokerage houses, from increased trading volumes.
The TOP 10 stocks include a few surprises while there are others that sit just outside the top stocks that investors may still want to keep a keen eye on. Investors should be looking beyond 2018 as medium term gains beyond 2018 could be strong for stocks that will benefit from current developments long term.
The TOP 10 selection is selling well below the average PE of the Main market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange at just over 6.3 versus nearly 12 at the end of 2017. The hallmark of successful investing is buy low so one can sell high that is why the huge discount of the TOP 10 make them compelling choices. Successful investing is to work to be on top of the market so current sexy stocks are not the ones likely to be in the IC Insider.com’s list.
Barita Investments has moved more into fee based income and that is working well for them, with sharp growth, while net interest income stagnates. The prospects for continued strong growth in fee income continues with more investors seeking better returns than in the fixed interest market. The company should see a change in ownership soon and that could see a more aggressive approach to management that could optimize returns from exiting business and newer lines. Unrealized gains on investment ought to be factored into its earnings in valuing the stocks and that would boost its value considerably, the market is not paying attention.
Berger Paints is set to be a big winner with increasing sales coming from a buoyant construction sector resulting in increased profit and what IC Insider.com expects to be a healthy dose of dividend payments. It could become the next Carreras from a dividend yield standpoint but with growing profits. The company will benefit from lowering of overhead cost which was evident in 2017.
Jamaica Broilers continues to grow organically and from new business being acquired. Growth will continue as the Haitian market deliver greater returns form a growing market while the poultry demand in Jamaica continues to grow.
Caribbean Cement will benefit from lower operating cost, increased sales and a planned cut in financing of the lease which is said will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of it cost that could come close to $2 per share per annum.
Palace Amusement Company, currently enjoying sell out cinemas with block busters hit is one of those unusual choices. It enjoys minimal trading but it could surprise on the upside if all goes well. Growth in the economy and increased employment will help to boost patronage going forward and will aid in profit growth as well.
JMMB Group put out outstanding Q3 results with a 39 percent increase in profit and strong gains in revenues, auguring well for 2019 outcome.

JMMB Group Q3 profit jumped 39% in 2018

The growth potential remains strong and investors in the stock will reap rich rewards down the road. Just one stock that requires patience. By the way fees and commission income jumped an impressive 71 percent to $512 million in the quarter and 53 percent in the nine months, over the similar period in 2016 and should continue to do so going forward.
Radio Jamaica continues to disappoint with below expected revenues and profit. It could return to favour but needs to generate more income from advertising. This is one to accumulate for a payoff down the road.
The other three stocks, Sterling Investments, Grace Kennedy and Sagicor Group are undervalued and could deliver some decent returns to patient investors.
Below the TOP 10 are strong candidates to deliver decent returns this year and beyond, the list includes NCB Financial that is on a strong growth trajectory and recently listed Wisynco Group that should generate earnings around $1.10 for the 2019 fiscal year that starts in July.