Markets declined in September
September was characterized by sideways market movements for the VN-Index, with the largest gap between the month’s high and low being approximately only 15 points. Closing the month at 392.57, the index gave up 0.87% for the month. The Hanoi exchange moved quite differently – a near downward trajectory to close the month at 55.47, down 9.7%. The VN30’s performance more closely resembled the VN-Index, with only narrow swings during the month, to close at 456.48, down 1.89% from August.
Market reacted to ACB resignations as developments troubled investors
In an unexpected announcement, ACB accepted the resignation of its BOD Chairman and two Vice Chairmen, this month. The resignations were initially claimed to be for personal and health reasons, yet were later announced to be connected to the arrest of ACB’s founder and the former CEO for economic violations (one of which being permission granted for approximately USD 34million to be deposited into competing banks at rates above the stipulated cap). A former BOD member of ACB, now on the Board of Eximbank, also resigned and is also to be prosecuted together with all the resigned ACB executives. Upon the dissemination of this information, the markets dropped, however only temporarily, as the news was widely expected.
Credit mobilization vastly exceeds credit growth
Credit growth from January to September 20, of this year, reached only 2.53%, much below the 8-10% target for 2012. While some banks have posted relatively high growth figures, such as BIDV and Military Commercial Jt Stock Bank, whose growth reached 13.5% and 10% respectively in the first 8 months; most of their credit growth however was for commercial bond lending. Removing commercial bond lending, loans outstanding to institutions and individuals decreased. In another example, VCB grew their credit 7.2% in the first 8 months, however savings growth was 13%. In efforts to ensure liquidity and being bound by the 9% deposit rate cap, many banks have begun to offer 13% interest for 13-month deposit terms. With dong lending rates now ranging between 13-15%, profits will come under pressure.
Health care and Education lead September’s CPI increase
In August, YoY inflation continued to abate to 5.04%, this month however, inflation rose to 6.48% YoY. September’s CPI rose 2.2% MoM, the highest MoM increase since May 2011. The increase is largely due to Healthcare, pharmaceutical items (17.02% increase), Education items (10.54% increase), and Transport and Telecoms (3.83%) increases. While Education’s increase was mostly due to seasonal factors, a series of rising petroleum prices played a notable role in the increase of one-off items.
GDP in first 9 months grew 4.73% over same period 2011
2012’s GDP growth is now expected to be 5.2%, thus requiring Q4 growth rate of 6.6% fairly optimistic as Q3 growth was 5.35% and Q4, 2011 growth reached only 5.98%. GDP has however, been steadily improving from Q1 and Q2. Low credit growth, declining exports and slow retail sales, combine to make up slow domestic growth. Export value declined an estimated 5.8% in September, according to GSO; however, import value also dropped 4.4%, bringing the Q3 trade balance to a USD 531 million surplus. Retail revenue growth in September increased 1.08% for the month, improved over the 0.7% growth recorded in August. For the first 9 months of 2012, nominal retail sales growth was 17% however; it reached only 6.4% in real terms. The Index of Industrial production also showed some signs of improvement, increasing 4.5% on month with increases in the manufacturing index being the largest contributor to the improved index.
FDI disbursement level paces 2011’s levels
Vietnam attracted approximately 73% of 2011’s January – September FDI, for a total of USD 9.52 billion. While overall attraction had declined, FDI disbursed reached USD8.1 billion, totaling 98.8% of YoY’s disbursed FDI. The Foreign Investment Agency expects disbursed FDI to reach USD 10 billion by year-end. Strong FDI disbursements have bolstered the FX reserves nearly USD 23 billion and contributed to S&P’s upgraded economic outlook and Fitch Rating’s affirmed B+ status of the dong.
Moody’s adjust government bond rating on banking sector weakness
At nearly the month’s end, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Vietnam’s credit rating one notch to B2, with a stable outlook. At cause for the downgrade are the country’s banks and the risk that the government will need to partially recapitalize them given the lack of private sector solutions. The rating agency also downgraded all 8 of the Vietnamese banks it assesses due to deteriorating asset quality and profitability pressure.
Our View – With uncertainty regarding economic and banking reform still lingering around, we prefer to be conservative at this time, holding high cash and only retaining our core equity holdings; companies which we have high conviction in and believe will stand the test of change.
We take this opportunity to do our homework well, combing the market carefully for resilient companies with little or no debt, strong growth potential, good cash flow and earnest management. Although valuations of certain companies and sectors have become quite attractive, we are not rushing in just yet. Too much change is happening or expected to be happening. So we need a little more certainty before getting back into the market.
Source: VAM Vietnam Asset Management, 15.10.2012
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