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Modi magic seen casting spell on stocks amid foreign flows

Abhishek Vishnoi & Santanu Chakraborty/Singapore | Mumbai 21 Mar 17 | 11:01 AM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's election-win magic looks to be casting a spell on the Indian stock market.

The S&P BSE Sensex index will climb to 32,000 by the end of December, up more than eight per cent from its close of 29,518.74 on Monday, according to a median estimate of eight traders and investors surveyed by Bloomberg News on March 14, three days after Modi's landslide victory in state elections. Financial companies and drugmakers are among their top picks on optimism the result will open the gates to foreign cash.

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"India will get $15-$20 billion a year from emerging-market allocations, which will partly get a boost due to political stability after Modi's win in state elections," said Samir Arora, Singapore-based founder of hedge-fund firm Helios Capital Management Pte. "I would buy even now, but be selective. The market is in good hands."

The optimism comes even after the post-election rally made Indian stocks the most expensive in Asia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, as their one-year forward price-to-earnings ratio climbed to the highest since 2010.

The benchmark fell 0.4 per cent in Mumbai on Monday, after marking its highest level since March 2015 on Friday. Its relative strength index has risen above 70, a level some investors see as a signal to sell.

India's price-to-earnings (PE) premium to MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan Index has come down to 26 percent versus an average 40 per cent and a peak of 50 per cent over the past two years, Goldman Sachs Group Inc analysts led by Sunil Koul wrote in a note on Friday. Risk from foreign positioning is low as emerging market and Asia ex-Japan mutual funds' overweight on India has come down to 330 basis points from 550 basis points during the 2015 peak, according to the note.

(PE ratio, P/E ratio or PER for short, this is a company's share price divided by its earnings per share (EPS), expressed as a number or as a multiple of EPS (P/E multiple). The earnings used for the calculation can be either the amount most recently reported by the company, or an analyst's projection of future earnings (normally the current year or the year after that). An important indication of comparative value — investors are normally better off buying a stock with a low P/E ratio than one with a high ratio, as they are getting more earnings for their money.)

Overseas investors bought a net $1.56 billion of Indian shares in February, ending a four-month selloff. They have already purchased another $2.43 billion in March, with $867.6 million of it coming in just two days following the state-election results.

Foreigners began 2017 looking for reasons to sell India, but capitulation has begun, and the election result would further accelerate that trend, Christopher Wood, CLSA Ltd’s Hong Kong-based equity strategist, wrote in a note Thursday. Renewed weakness in oil prices may act as another positive for India in the emerging-market context, Wood added.

Note: Respondents in the survey are from Equinomics Research & Advisory Pvt., IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd., Motilal Oswal Asset Management Co., Religare Capital Markets Ltd., India Infoline Ltd., Guiness Securities Ltd., OmniScience Capital and Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.  

  Bloomberg

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Sensex

Company Price Gain (%)
M & M1,419.002.16
Lupin837.702.03
TCS2,656.001.96
H D F C1,710.901.90
Wipro289.251.60

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