Less turbulent 2021 seen for Vietnam stock market

By Phuong Dong   January 3, 2021 | 05:29 pm PT
Less turbulent 2021 seen for Vietnam stock market
An investor watches stock prices at a brokerage office in Hanoi. Photo by AFP.
The VN-Index will continue gaining in 2021 without the turbulence seen last year, several securities firms predict.

With Covid-19 unlikely to go away this year, central banks will have to maintain loose monetary policies to prop up economies. This, along with shifting global supply chains, will bring even more advantages to the domestic stock market, Tran Thanh Tan, general director of fund manager VietFund Management (VFM), said.

In their latest strategy report, Rong Viet Securities (VDSC) said the recovery of the domestic economy with Vietnam’s Covid-19 situation under control will be a pillar for the VN-Index’s sustained rise.

Low interest rates will continue making equities more attractive in terms of profitability and draw cash flow, while the market has some supporting factors such as the possibility of being upgraded to second emerging market by global provider of benchmarks, analytics, and data solutions FTSE Russell, as well as being on the emerging market upgrade watch list of MSCI, the provider of global indices and benchmark related products and services to investors worldwide, it said.

Concurring, Tran Thi Khanh Hien, head of research at brokerage VNDirect, added the VN-Index could also get a boost from the fact that a vaccine could be widely deployed soon.

However, analysts have also cautioned that VN-Index’s rally could be hampered in a scenario where the global economy and domestic listed firms’ profit recovery goes more slowly than expected.

If this happens, the VN-Index is only likely to reach the 1,180 points at the end of the year.

According to VDSC, the valuation of Vietnam’s stock market remains quite attractive compared to regional peers, with a relatively low price-earnings ratio of 16.9. But geopolitical factors such as the U.S. labeling Vietnam a "currency manipulator" may affect general sentiment.

Vietcombank Securities (VCBS) also warned that the effect of most of the market’s current supporting factors, such as promising vaccine tests and healthy cash flow, which appeared in the second half of 2020, may weaken in the near future.

The VN-Index will hover around a high price level, with the difference between the year’s peak and trough narrowing to around 20-150 points instead of over 440 points last year, and "year-to-year peaks could rise around 8-12 percent," VCBS said.

If Covid-19 vaccines prove effective, allowing the global economy to rebound, monetary policies in the second half of 2021 may change and put brakes on the index’s momentum."

Investors should not get too excited, and should really understand their investments," said Tran Thanh Tan of VFM.

Similarly, VDSC said that investors should vet their investments carefully as abundant cash flow, at around VND15 trillion ($642.62 million) a session, three times as high as the pre-Covid-19 period, have caused some stocks to be overbought.

The rapid growth of the VN-Index in the final months of 2020 has also enticed investors, experienced and new alike, to use margin tools, which could prove very risky if the market turns around, VDSC added.

Mixed year

2020 was mixed year for Vietnam’s stock market, witnessing a shocking plunge as well as a remarkable rebound.

The Covid-19 outbreak in the first quarter shook the market and sent investors into a panic. In just two months, 330 points were shaved off the VN-Index.

However, in an ironic development, the pandemic also paved the way for an impressive comeback that exceeded expectations. With other investment channels such as real estate and savings losing their gloss, an influx of idle cash from inexperienced investors became the driving force behind the stock market’s rapid revival in the second half of the year."

Looking back, it’s hard to believe the stock market is performing so positively. The VN-Index closed at 1,103.87 points in the last session of the year, up 14.86 percent over 2019. Executives, investors and securities companies are all popping out the champagne," said Tan.

The VN-Index had entered 2020 at 960.99 points, a rise of 7.67 percent after a sedate year with few fluctuations and strong macro indicators such as stable inflation, rising household consumption, and the U.S.-China trade war bringing foreign investment into Vietnam’s manufacturing sector.

It plummeted to a trough of 662 points in the first quarter after Covid-19 caused panic-driven mass selloffs, but then closed at 1,103.87 points, up 14.8 percent over the previous year.

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