GSE makes 'worldwide' record

The Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) recovery has reached a phenomenal point, once again recording the highest year-to-date returns worldwide; but it seems that many local fund managers that invest on the market are still holding a 'wait and see' attitude.

The GSE's negative 46.58% return last year made it the worst performer among the general poor showing of stock markets across the world - not sparing the many equity-based funds that make their profit on the market.

The gradual recovery of the GSE from the beginning of this year came to confirm analysts' forecast that the market would bounce back to positive returns, but last week Friday's 22.96% year-to-date posted by the GSE – the highest return recorded in the world so far – has beat even the most optimistic forecasts.

Contrary to the norm, not a single fund manager has been able to beat the GSE so far; available updates by Gold Coast Securities (GCS) Research show that the NTHC Horizon Fund, which came closest to the GSE, recorded a year-to-date return of 10.46% for the same period.

Other returns made on equity-based funds were SAS Fortune Fund 10.45%; the newest on the market - the Capital Growth Fund - returned 8.17%; Gold Fund 6.18%; and HFC Equity 5.21%. Anidaso Mutual Fund, the only fund currently managed outside of the capital city, recorded a year-to-date return of 4.96% while Epack, the oldest fund on the market, returned 4.64%.

Some Funds suffered a similar fate in 2008, the year the GSE came top of the world with a 58.05% year-to-date for the year. HFC Equity Fund posted a return of 38.89% that year and Gold Fund recorded 37.32% while the Epack, owing to the abysmal performance of the other African markets where it invests, returned a woeful negative 3.84%.

Historically, fund managers' active participation on the market in the years 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007 saw them reap huge capital gains for their small fund holders .

Collins Appiah, Head of Research at GCS, the owners of Gold Fund in an interview with B&FT said the passiveness of fund managers this time round could be stemming from the fact' that the" market has just recovered from a deep recession, "and' therefore it is worthwhile that fund managers watch the market for some time before remixing portfolios where necessary," he stated.

Collins, who was optimistic the trend would reverse by close of year, added that last year's recession triggered a wave of redemption by fund holders which continued into the first quarter of this year. "It is the main factor why we have not recorded an impressive performance so far," he said.

The unimpressive performance of the funds - which invest at least 75 percent of their assets on the capital market, stand in comparison to some stocks that have outperformed the GSE.

Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), which lost 32.73% last year to fall to GH¢0.74, recovered this year to GH¢1.12, representing 1.1 2% year-to-date gain. Cal Bank (Cal) lost 40% last year to GH¢0.20 but has regained to GH¢0.28, to present 40% gain so far. SIC, the biggest insurance firm, also lost 46% last year to GH¢0.27 but has now risen to GH¢0.36, the equivalent of 29.63% year-to-date gain.

Derrick Mensah, also of GCS Research, noted that equity-dominated fund managers in Ghana put not less than 45% of their investments into financial stocks, which has helped to keep their heads above water since the financial stocks have been doing extra well.

"The downside therefore is as a result of the poor showing of the other category of stocks since the year began; such as the brewery, manufacturing and lCT stocks and some of the consumer goods, and distribution and trading stocks," he noted.

According to Collins, these stocks will soon pick up when short-term interest rates and yields on fixed income securities fall further, as expected.

According to him, the benchmark 91-day Treasury bill rate - now at 13.29% - should fall further to single digits by close of year. "If this forecast by the Bank of Ghana is anything to go by, then investors should be paying more attention to the stock market for higher gains and most of these stocks would be beneficiaries," he stated.

He therefore foresees that the current favourable showing of money market funds and balanced funds as compared to equity dominated funds will most likely change in favour of the latter.

Latest updates have quoted a year-to-date return .of 21.58% on the Mfund and 20.41 % on the HFC Unit Trust, both money market funds.

Bright Quaye, also a researcher at GCS, advised investors in mutual funds and unit trusts not to de-invest too quickly at this time because fund managers are experts who are able to take far more informed decisions on their investments than they can do on their own as small fund holders.

"Fund managers are able to diversify their investments on the capital market, which helps to reduce the risk on investments to the barest minimum. As small fund holders, they may not be able to invest in blue chip stocks that earn very high returns, but buying into a mutual fund is an avenue to do so," Bright cautioned.

Source: B&FT

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