Investment 2021 – Recovery for JSE markets

The JSE Junior and Main Markets retreated in 2020, due mainly to the impact of the COVID-19 on the economy and businesses. Both markets, however, began to struggle in the final quarter of 2019 as a number of new IPOs were either issued or scheduled to be issued, thereby sapping some of the liquidity from the market.
The markets may have been due for a correction anyway, based on their history. Prior to this period, the Main Market had only risen on two other occasions equalling or exceeding six years. Surprisingly, the market went on to move higher during a period of economic turbulence, from 1978 to 1987, nine years of annual gains and again between 1996 and 2004 for another nine-year spell. On the other hand, the Junior Market, for the first time, recorded five consecutive years of increases from 2015 to 2019.
In reality, the market closed higher in each year from 2014 to 2019 for six years’ unbroken run. The JSE Main Market fell 33 percent to the low in March and the Junior Market by 37 percent.  Since then, they have rebounded but not enough to take them out of the negative territory for the year.
The number of new IPOs coming to market in the past three years pulled liquidity from the Junior Market, which depends extensively on the involvement of individual investors. In 2018 and 2019, the Junior Market under-performed the Main Market, measured by way of the market indices. In 2020, both markets were down, with the Junior Market just edging out the Main Market index with a lower decline of 21 percent versus 22.6 percent. Even though 2020 was not a great year, some investors made money by buying some stocks at rock bottom prices when many investors were dumping.
The decline in the market gives some investors breathing space from the six years’ bull market and opportunities to pick up stocks at better valuations or prices than for the period up to March 2020.
The markets have been recovering since they bottomed in March with the Junior Market up 30 percent and the Main Market 16.6 percent. There are strong signals pointing to an upward move for both markets as they transitioned from a consolidating phase when investors were assessing developments in the economy and the stock market.  The Golden cross technical signal for the Junior Market points to that market heading back above the 3,000 points level within months. The Main Market is undergoing a bullish signal with short term moving average line crossing over the medium-term Moving Average a bullish signal. The Main Market is within an ascending channel that points to the All Jamaican index heading towards the 460,000 points range.
Market valuations are reasonable with the PE ratios based on 2020 earnings at 14.7 times for the Junior Market and 17 for the Main Market, a few stocks are priced higher than the average, with many prices well below. Based on 2021 earnings, the PE ratio is an average of 9.2 for Junior Market stocks and 14.7 for the Main Market. The large difference is an indication as to where the best values can be found for investors. Adequate liquidity can be a problem for the Junior Market and many investors need to take a longer-term view in some of these companies as it is sometimes difficult to buy or sell good volume at prevailing market prices under current market conditions.
The local economy is currently down sharply, compared to 2019, but information released by Statin shows the economy picking up from the depressed June quarter, when major areas of the local economy were closed due to COVID-19. However, there are signs that the recovery has been picking up the pace and could move higher if the Coronavirus does not have any greater impact.
While the restrictions placed on economic and social activity has eased since the June quarter, it’s not business as usual in many areas. Investors still need to keep an eye on COVID-19 developments globally and any likely effects on the local economy. Barring any negative developments, stocks highly exposed to tourism, construction, banks and some manufacturing entities could see revenues and profits improving in 2021.
The TOP Main Market stocks’ potential gains range from 70 percent to 290 percent. The Junior Market range is 145 percent to 400 percent. Quite a number of the TOP 15 are recovery candidates. In fact, the Junior Market is filled with these, of which there are six that suffered badly from the effects COVID-19 had on their customers or in dampening demand for their products. A few in the Main Market were partially affected but not as much as some Junior Market companies.
This year 2021, seems set to be the year of surprises as many stocks that suffered badly in 2020 could be making a major turnaround in revenues and profit, while some that may not fully recover could start showing good signs of returning to normalcy.
The TOP 15 Main Market stocks: Berger Paints, Grace Kennedy, Jamaica Broilers, Pan Jam Investment, Radio Jamaica, Victoria Mutual Investments, Scotia Group, QWI Investments, Wisynco Group, Carreras, Sygnus Credit Investments, JMMB Group, Caribbean Cement, Seprod and Sterling Investments.
The TOP 15 Junior Market stocks: Lasco Financial, Caribbean Producers, Caribbean Cream, Main Event, Elite Diagnostic, Jetcon, Medical Disposables, Caribbean Assurance Brokers, Access Financial, Stationery and Office Supplies, Jamaican Teas, General Accident, Lasco Distributors, Lumber Depot and MailPac.
While there are clear signs of improving economic conditions, the path for the year ahead is uncertain for a number of companies. Some that suffered badly in 2020 will be showing signs of recovery, but the timing of their return to fairly good health is unclear at this stage. Investors should be on the watch for these early signs in individual companies.
Banks suffered from the need to increase expected credit loss provisioning, but it appears that it may not be as bad as initially projected. As such, there is likely to be less provision for credit losses in 2021 for banks and other lenders.

JSE Main Market on a rebound and heading to 460,000 points based on the AJ Index.

For other companies, just the fact that the second quarter lockdown of the economy last year is unlikely to be repeated will result in second quarter results in 2021 being better than last year. This would be of benefit to Caribbean Producers, Elite Diagnostic, Jetcon and Stationery and Office Supplies.
Strong growth in the construction sector favours stocks such as Berger Paints, Caribbean Cement and Lumber Depot while a rebound in the tourism sector will help boost revenues for Caribbean Producers, Grace Kennedy, Jamaica Broilers, Wisynco Group and the banks.
The financial challenges caused by the coronavirus are likely to lead to some businesses seeking to merge or dispose of a majority interest to other entities. As such, there is the possibility that a number of listed companies could acquire some of them at good prices. This is a potential development that investors should be on the alert for.

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