After a strong increase in share value witnessed last year across the region one might ask themselves if the bull run has come to an end or does the regional share market still hold some potential for growth in 2020.
For starters, let’s take a look at how regional markets performed in the previous year to see which market performed the best and which lagged behind.
Selected Indices Performance in 2019 (%)
As one can see from the chart, all regional markets posted a strong performance in 2019. Among them, Romania proved to be the most successful one as the BET index posted a strong 34% YoY increase in value. Meanwhile the Polish WIG index posted a mere 1.8% increase by the end of the year.
However, the question remains. Can markets record yet another year of growth? Well, for starters let’s turn our attention to the market cap to GDP ratio, or the Buffet Indicator as it is sometimes referred to. The ratio was popularized by the famous investor Warren Buffet and it compares the market capitalization of all publicly-traded shares on a single market with the country’s GDP. It was one of the indicators of the approaching storm and later the crises in 2008, which severely damaged the equity markets. As Buffett said, “The ratio has certain limitations in telling you what you need to know. Still, it is probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment” so it is often used to determine whether the share market is overvalued or undervalued.
Market Cap to GDP of Selected Markets (%)
As one can see from the chart, regional stock exchanges are far from reaching Wester Europe or US levels in terms of market cap/GDP. Furthermore, with ratios below 50%, it is safe to say that shares of regional companies are still not in overvalued territory.
Back to Basics
Since investment decisions are made based on fundamental values let us look at some key multiples used in comparing share values. At first glance, the Croatian CROBEX P/E might seem expensive compared to regional markets. However, such a valuation is significantly impacted by both the weight of tourism stocks (c. 33%) and implied growth prospects of underlying shares. What one should also take into account is that all regional indices are relatively cheaper than their counterparts represented in the MSCI Frontier Index.
P/E & EV/EBITDA Multiples of Selected Indices
Finally, one should also take into account the dividend yields provided by the indices. For investor who are more interested in high dividend shares, Romania proved to be the right place as the main index posted a dividend yield of 7%. This is due to the fact that the BET index contains a large amount of state-owned energy companies who traditionally pay out a high dividend.
Dividend Yield of Selected Indices (%)