Deceptive market: 80% stocks posted negative returns in 2018; indices mask poor show

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Mumbai | Updated: February 9, 2019 7:33:00 AM

Nifty Midcap Index has given up 21.5% since the start of 2018; Nifty Smallcap Index has suffered a bruising 34.8%

 

Deceptive Market, Reliance Industries, Infosys, HDFC Bank, Tata Consultancy Services, Foreign portfolio investorsForeign portfolio investors (FPI) have remained net sellers for most of 2018, offloading equities worth .2 billion between January 2018 and now.

An unimpressive profit growth in corporate India has left India’s stock markets with very poor breadth. Over the past year, 80% of stocks have posted negative returns and while this is masked by the rise in the benchmarks, the indices have been driven up by a handful of stocks.

 

Between them, Reliance Industries (RIL), Infosys, HDFC Bank, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and HDFC have contributed about 970 points to the Nifty rally of 413 points since January 2018, indicating that the remaining stocks have posted negative returns.

How weak the broader markets are is clear from the fact that the number of stocks with a market capitalisation ofRs 1,000 crore or more has been continuously falling, having hit the lowest levels in two years. As on Thursday, there were only 727 firms that had a market capitalisation of at least Rs 1,000 crore. This was lower than the 858 companies at the end-December 2017, data sourced from Bloomberg showed.

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The Nifty Midcap Index has given up 21.5% since the start of 2018, and 79% of its constituents have lost value. The Nifty Smallcap Index has suffered a bruising 34.8% since January, and 87% of its members have seen a fall in prices.
“Lower oil prices have created a positive environment for India, but we are downbeat on the economic outlook as we expect the economy to transition from a growth sweet-spot in 2018 to a soft patch in 2019,”economists at Nomura wrote recently. “In particular, we expect the slowdown to worsen in H1 2019 to around 6.2% , from a peak of 8.2% in Q2 2018 before staging a recovery to 7.2% in Q4 2019,” they added.

Foreign portfolio investors (FPI) have remained net sellers for most of 2018, offloading equities worth $4.2 billion between January 2018 and now. On the other hand, domestic institutional investors (DIIs) bought shares worth whopping $16 billion during the same period. Meaningful earnings growth has eluded corporate India for three years now and private sector investments remain subdued.

On Friday, the Sensex posted its biggest single-day drop in seven weeks as renewed concerns over US-China trade war and the record quarterly loss reported by Tata Motors spooked investors. At 36,546.48, the benchmark Sensex trades at a price-earnings(PE) multiple of 17.9 times to the estimated one-year forward earnings, a premium of 8.4% to the long-term average PE of 16.5 times. That compares with 10.3 times for Kospi and 15.5 for Jakarta Composite. Brazilian Bovespa and the Shanghai Composite are trading at a price-earnings multiple of 11.7 and 9.7 respectively, data from Bloomberg shows.

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