Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Next Bulls Rally Has Begun, Mobius Says

Bloomberg -- The next “bull-market” rally has begun and there are bargains in every emerging market following a record slump in stocks, Templeton Asset Management Ltd.’s Mark Mobius said. “You have to be careful not to miss the opportunity,” said Mobius, who helps oversee about USD 20 billion of emerging-market assets at San Mateo, California-based Templeton.

“With all the negative news, there is a tendency to hold back.” Citigroup Inc.’s analysts Markus Rosgen and Elaine Chu are among strategists who describe recent Asian stock gains as a temporary “bear-market rally.” They remain “skeptical”because valuations have yet to plumb the lows seen in past recessions, they said in a report today.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has jumped 23 percent since reaching a four-year low on Oct. 27, outperforming the 2.5 percent drop in the MSCI World Index and 9.5 percent decline in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. Emerging markets made up the 10 best-performing stock benchmark indexes this year, led by the 26 percent gain for China’s Shanghai Composite Index.

“You are going to see a lot of bouncing off the bottom because there’s a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the market,” Mobius, 72, said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Hong Kong. “But I have a feeling we’re at the bottom and now we’re building a base for the next bull market.”

‘Top Ten’

Mobius correctly predicted in December that emerging markets will rebound before developed nations. In 1999, he was voted among the “Top Ten Money Managers of the 20th Century” in a survey by the Carson Group, and in 2006 he was included in the “Top 100 Most Powerful and Influential People” by Asia money magazine.

Templeton is finding “bargains” in every emerging market, which are in “better shape” than developed economies, Mobius said. The fund is looking for companies that are “cash-rich,” have low debt and higher dividend yields, or those that can invest for future growth yet have cash left to pay shareholders, he said.

Investors who poured USD 502 million into Asian equity funds over the past two weeks may lose out once the “bear market rally” falters, Citigroup said today in a note, citing a 30 percent drop after an initial rebound in the 1997 slump. Fidelity Investments, the world’s biggest mutual fund company, is among the skeptics on predictions about the timing of the market cycle.

‘No Crystal Ball’

“No one can call the bottom in the stock market. No one managed to do it. We can’t do it. We don’t have a crystal ball,” Tal Eloya, a portfolio manager at Fidelity Investments, said in a briefing in Seoul today. “We have to think long term and invest over a long-term horizon.” Mobius’s views that stocks will rally are shared by investor Antoine van Agtmael, who coined the term “emerging markets.”

“Relative to potential sustainable growth and quality, emerging markets today are cheaper than I have seen them at anytime since I started to invest” 30 years ago, van Agtmael, who oversees about USD 8.6 billion as chairman and chief investment officer at Emerging Markets Management LLC, said in a phone interview March 19.

“Things have gone too far down.” Asian stock market valuations outside of Japan fell to 0.9 times book value during the 1975 and 1982 recessions, according to Citigroup. The MSCI Asia excluding Japan Index is now valued at 1.3 times book value. Brazilian oil company Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Cia. Vale do Rio Doce, the world’s biggest iron-ore producer, and Chinese oil producer Petro China Co. are among the top holdings of Mobius’s Templeton Emerging Markets Trust.

Article from Mr. Jesper Lee - Cimb

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