HOW TO PROTECT YOUR INVESTMENT IN BEARISH MARKET

By West Africa Capital Market School

After having reflected on the fact that there is now little doubt that the Nigeria Stock Market is in the midst of a bear run and that the bear would dominate the market over a long period, experts at the West African School of Capital Market, have offered to avail capital market operator the appropriate trading strategies for the bearish market.

“Economic fundamentals do not support a swift return to an upward price trend,” the experts noted in a dispatch to operators and investors. “With oil hovering in the low $40s, there is precious little money flowing from the public sector unless of course there are draw downs from dedicated accounts to fund some sort of large scale infra-structural investment and even this will take some time to trickle through based on emergent large bets against the local currency.”

The experts highlighted eight broad approaches to managing clients’ portfolio for stockbrokers.

1. Avoid investment diversification. Diversification is a great idea in good markets as it cuts down market and sector risk. However, in a bear market, the problem is with the broad market. The broader your selling of low performers, and concentrating your investments in fewer stocks that have shown the best performance, is the way to go. Your risk is no longer corporate performance but low confidence in the overall market and so it does not make sense to be broadly represented.

2. Help clients identify and preserve core capital – you will have to trace client investments by contribution/performance to identify core capital. Let clients know that you are focused on ensuring that they remain “in the game” and are positioned for a market rebound when it eventually comes.

3. Review your website and its contents to reflect the new realities and change research recommendations from “buy’ “sell” “hold” to a “preserve”, “growth” and “aspire” type recommendations. Preserve stocks will provide growth and income necessary to preserve core capital and maintain lifestyles. Growth will beat the overall index and Aspire is for long term gains when the market picks up. Conservative clients may choose to start out with 50 per cent Preserve, 40 per cent Growth and 10 per cent Aspire and then mechanistically adjust the portfolio later.

4. Shift emphasis from selling stocks to financial planning and wealth management if you have the skills for these. Financial planning is far more defensive than wealth management which requires the identification of non-financial wealth and the setting up of the right trust structures.

5. Be wary of new investment types that you don’t fully understand. The property market, for instance, will in all probability self correct especially at the high end where oversupply and tighter bank credit is now becoming an issue. If you are just getting into property come in at the middle and low end. Avoid the Lekki-Epe axis by all means.

6. If you choose to bet against the naira, do so in an intelligent way and realize that dollar rates can crash if government so desires. You need to get an inside track on just what government thinking is. A strong dollar will cut imports in the medium term and do long term good to the reserves but this strategy might go horribly wrong. We have to wait and see.

7. Keep your people engaged as much as you can. The obvious reaction is to slash and cut and sometimes this may be necessary but rather stay positive and prepare for the bull market because it will come back and for a fairly sustained period too. This means lighter more qualified and educated personnel and wise investments in scalable technology. If you are going to sell optimism abroad then sell it at home too and stay on message.

8. How do you know when the market is recovering? You will need to get some of your people busy on creating and maintaining the A/D Line of the NSE All share. Each day deduct the number of stocks gaining from stock shedding value and graph the resultant values. This will show clearly when the broad market begins to recover.

Technically, the market is in base formation right now with small gains being matched by exits/loss capping. Traditionally, base formation is followed by a sharp and sustained movement to the up or downside. You can estimate this by looking carefully at the volume on up days and the volume on down days. The whole idea is to cancel out the noise being generated by the overall index to see where recovery is likely to begin from.

The other option to these suggestions is to do nothing and hope for the best. While hope might be a laudable trait it is certainly not an advised business strategy. We believe that the market is transiting from high volatility/high gain frontier market status to a more sustained emerging market growth type of market. Such transitions are always painful but unavoidable,” the experts submitted.

Advertisements

WILL THE STOCK MARKET EVER RECOVER?

Many investors have sat and watched in bewilderment as the value of their stocks plummeted, a reason I have been asked over and over if the stock market will ever recover from the losses that have been accumulated over the past eight months. To be specific, investors have lost nothing less that three trillion naira in terms of paper losses alone. I said paper losses because the losses you see in your portfolio are not real until you give a sell order to your stock-broker, stocks are volatile assets whose value can change within a few trading days.

REASONS FOR THE PERSISITENT DECLINE

 1.   LOW INVESTOR CONFIDENCE: The bearish market which started in March has eroded the confidence of many investors, especially, those who entered into the stock market within the past two years. The peculiar thing about these new investors is the fact that a lot of them see the stock market as quick money making venture, and as you know, some of them have never witnessed such a long bearish period as we have witnessed within the past few months. It is also noteworthy that several investors had just begun to recover from the losses they sustained from wonder banks like Nospetco, Sefteg, etc; in 2007. I remember that such investors were condemned for being too greedy by stock analysts and they were admonished to limit their investment to stock market alone. So, at the beginning of 2008, we experienced a massive exodus of investors from the wonder banks to the stock market, but alas, the stock market has been crashing which have made such investors to resign from the investment world. This is no good news for all stakeholders in the market because all over the world, the confidence that investors have in a market determines how successful that market is since they are the ones who move the imaginary hand of demand and supply at all times.

 2.   POOR IMPLEMENTATION OF POLICIES: Our regulatory agencies should take one or two punches for the current situation of things because they have been slacked in their approach to recent developments in the market. A stakeholders meeting was finally called on the 26th August to find solutions to the current situation after six months of a bearish market. Since then some of the policies that were identified have either not been implemented or simply relegated to the background. The most important of this is the creation of a stabilization fund to stem the bearish trend whenever necessary, I don’t know how you look at it, but from my point of view, I think this issue should have taken priority over other policies because without funds that are needed to buy stocks, the stock market can simply not move, it’s as simple as that.

Dear friends, gone are those days that fundamentals count and investors are motivated to buy shares because of good quarterly and audited results published by companies. Investors are not moved by results again and if you want to contradict this argument, check what has happened to the likes of Fidelity Bank, Oceanic Bank, etc; since they declared their fantastic results. The truth is, things are not normal and desperate situations require desperate actions. In addition to this, the authorities have not addressed the investing public since August 26. I have reasons to respect the American spirit better within these past few weeks that the Americans have been hit by an unprecedented financial crisis. Within two weeks, the president of the USA, the Senate president, speaker and federal reserve chairman have addressed the American public four good times trying all they can to update Americans on the situations of things and the way forward but it’s not like that here, investors are always left guessing.

Another controversial policy is the introduction of a minimum one per cent drop in prices while allowing stocks to gain a maximum five per cent in a day; this has caused what some investors call a slow motion in the stock market, a situation that has made the sale of stocks even more difficult than in the past, this was supposed to be a temporary measure but I think it’s here to stay. The list of the number of inefficiencies from our regulatory agencies cannot be exhausted in one piece of article, it is better left as it is.

3.   GLOBAL FINANCIAL CRISIS: the Nigerian crisis actually preceded the ongoing global financial crisis which started in the USA with the collapse of big banks like the Lehman Brothers, Merrill lynch and WAMU. Stock markets all over the world are currently taking the beating of their lives. As a matter of fact, the Russians had to shut down their stock exchange for two trading days in September in order to arrest excessive decline in stocks. Last Thursday afternoon, I saw some investors protesting in the legislative house in Hong Kong because of the losses they have made on their portfolio. Don’t mind the CIBN and CBN which recently came out to say that we are immune to the global financial crisis; the truth is that we are not immune and I will state my reasons.

First, recall that we had touted the entry of foreign institutional investors who were planning to come into the Nigerian market as one of the factors that will lead to a bullish market in 2008, but at present, the JP Morgan, Merryl Lynch, or Barclays of these world won’t come into the Nigerian market for now because they have serious problems to contend with back at home. In fact, Charles Soludo, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria recently shifted the blame for the recent market drop to some of these foreign investors who have pulled their funds out of the Nigerian stock market.

Despite all these challenges, it is not all gloomy for the Nigerian market because there is always light at the end of the tunnel, this market will definitely recover soon and the road to recovery will form the central theme of my article in the next edition. Watch out for it.