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Economy

Pension Fund Managers Ease Exposure to Equities

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Pension Fund Managers

Pension Fund Managers Ease Exposure to Equities

By Quantitative Financial Analytics

In a bid to bolster their performance, strengthen their risk management strategies and in response to the lacklustre performance of the Nigerian stock market, pension fund managers in Nigeria have increasingly been reducing their exposure to the stock market by allocating less and less of their assets to domestic ordinary shares and more and more to FGN bonds and other fixed income securities.

Analysis of available information conducted by Quantitative Financial Analytics indicates that allocation to domestic ordinary shares has been suffering some reductions month after month since 2013.

As at December 2013, 14.58 percent of pension funds’ assets were invested in domestic ordinary shares, by the same period in 2014, investment in domestic ordinary shares had fallen to 11.79 percent.

As if that was not enough, by December 2015, pension fund managers reduced their exposure to the stock market by a further 2 percent, allocating only 9.76 percent to domestic stock market.

The downward spiral continued in December 2016 when just 8.13 percent of pension fund assets were allocated to domestic ordinary shares only for the sorry allocation to still suffer further reduction in January 2017 to stand at 7.79 percent.

As at February 28, 2017, only 7.45 percent of pension fund assets were in domestic ordinary shares showing that over the last five years or so, pension funds have reduced their exposure to the domestic stock market by 7.13 percent and it looks like they are not done yet.

At the other end of the asset allocation spectrum is the tendency for the pension funds to overweight their asset allocation to fixed income securities especially FGN Bonds.

As at December 2013, FGN Bonds and Treasury Bills accounted for 58.75 percent of pension fund assets, but by February 2017, allocation to FGN Bonds and Treasury bills has increased to 72.36 percent, an increase of 13.61 percent.

Although pension funds have been recording positive returns month after month, (in trickles though), their asset allocation as indicated above is not reminiscent of diversified portfolios and may therefore be suboptimal.

Optimal asset allocation is built on the premise that different asset classes offer returns that are not perfectly correlated and diversifying portfolios across such asset classes helps to optimize risk-adjusted returns.

It does appear however that Nigerian pension fund managers’ ability or willingness to diversify is being stymied or fettered by regulatory impediments which specify, among other things, the required maximum allocation to a given asset class.

The importance of asset allocation as a major source of investment returns has been highlighted by researchers and analysts alike.

A widely-cited study of pension plan managers has found out that 91.5 percent of the difference between one portfolio’s performance and another’s are explained by asset allocation.

Specifically, in 1986, Gary P. Brinson, CFA, Randolph Hood, and Gilbert L. Beebower posited that asset allocation is the primary determinant of a portfolio’s return variability, with security selection and market timing playing minor roles.

Subsequent research results have come to support that assertion and it is hoped that in the near future and subject to the availability of asset classes and within limits of regulatory entanglements, Nigerian pension fund managers will diversify their portfolios optimally.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

Economy

Employment Growth Quickens Amid Efforts to Deal With Workloads

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Manufacturing Activities PMI

The Nigerian private sector registered a slight loss of growth momentum in January, with output and new business rising further markedly, though at softer rates than at the end of 2022.

On a more positive note, firms raised employment at the fastest pace since June 2018 as part of efforts to complete work on time.

On the price front, rates of inflation of input costs and output prices softened in January but remained elevated.

Analysis by Stanbic IBTC Bank showed that the headline figure derived from the survey is the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI®).

Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions in the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration. The headline PMI dipped to 53.5 in January from 54.6 in December. Although still signalling a solid monthly strengthening of the private sector and the thirty-first in consecutive months, the rate of improvement was the softest since August 2022.

Business activity increased at a much slower pace at the start of the year, despite the rate of growth remaining marked. The latest rise was the weakest in five months. Demand continued to improve, but some firms reported a moderation in customer numbers.

Activity increased across each of the four broad sectors covered by the survey. The rate of expansion in new business also softened in January but remained sharp nonetheless, again reflecting higher demand from customers.

A desire to try and complete projects on time led companies to ramp up their hiring activities at the start of the year. Employment increased at a solid pace that was the fastest since June 2018.

Despite expanded staffing levels, backlogs of work increased for the first time in three months. Firms reported having been hindered by issues with machinery and power supply.

Higher workloads and positive expectations regarding the outlook for activity led companies to expand their purchasing activity sharply again, with the rate of growth unchanged from December. In turn, stocks of purchases also rose further. Efforts to secure inputs were helped by improving supplier performance.

Competition among vendors, quiet road conditions and prompt payments all contributed to a shortening of delivery times, one that was the most pronounced in four months. The rate of input cost inflation softened for the second month running in January, and was at a one-year low.

The slowdown in overall cost inflation largely reflected a softer rise in purchase prices, albeit one that was still substantial. Purchase costs increased on the back of rising fuel and raw material costs, exacerbated by currency weakness.

Meanwhile, staff costs rose at the fastest pace in 11 months as companies increased pay in line with higher living costs. Output price inflation also remained elevated as higher cost burdens were passed on to customers.

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Economy

NASD OTC Market Appreciates by 0.95%

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NASD Market capitalisation

By Adedapo Adesanya

The duo of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc and Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc buoyed the NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange by 0.95 per cent on Thursday, February 2.

They lifted the market capitalisation of the bourse by N8.80 billion to settle at N940.51 billion compared with the previous day’s N931.71 billion. They also raised the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) by 6.70 points to wrap the session at 715.76 points compared with 709.06 points recorded in the previous session.

During the session, the price of FrieslandCampina went up by N3.23 to settle at N68.06 per unit, in contrast to the previous day’s N64.83 per unit, while CSCS Plc appreciated by 50 Kobo to sell at N13.50 per share compared with the preceding session’s N13 per share.

The volume of transacted stocks decreased by 4.3 per cent to 261,439 units from the 273,038 units traded in the preceding session. However, the value of shares traded went higher by 38.9 per cent to N15.7 million from N11.3 million, while the number of deals recorded an improvement, as it grew by 300 per cent to 20 deals from five deals on Tuesday.

Business Post reports that there was no price loser at the session.

Geo-Fluids finished the day as the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis with 321.2 million units worth N317.2 million, UBN Property Plc stood in second place with 35.8 million units valued at N25.8 million, while FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc was in third place with 2.4 million units valued at N159.4 million.

Geo-Fluids Plc also maintained its summit position as the most active stock by value on a year-to-date basis, with 321.2 million units sold for N317.2 million, FrieslandCampina WAMCO Group Plc was in second place with 2.4 million units valued at N159.4 million, while VFD Group Plc was in third place for trading 561,810 units for N137.0 million.

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Economy

Continuous Bargain Hunting Leaves Local Stock Exchange Higher by 0.93%

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Local Stock Exchange

By Dipo Olowookere

The local stock exchange closed higher by 0.93 per cent on Thursday amid continuous bargain hunting by investors, who are digesting a flurry of full-year corporate earnings.

It was observed that the growth reported during the session was strongly influenced by buying pressure in the energy sector, which rose by 5.17 per cent on the back of gains posted by Seplat, MRS Oil and others.

The banking and insurance counters depreciated on Thursday by 0.44 per cent and 0.39 per cent, respectively, as the consumer goods and the industrial goods sectors closed flat.

At the close of trades, the All-Share Index (ASI) of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited increased by 498.44 points to 53,998.12 points from 53,499.68 points, and the market capitalisation grew by N271 billion to close at N29.411 trillion compared with the midweek session’s N29.140 trillion.

MRS Oil topped the gainers’ chart after it gained 10.00 per cent to finish at N17.60, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills appreciated by 9.88 per cent to N8.90, International Energy Insurance rose by 9.76 per cent to 90 Kobo, Seplat went up by 9.50 per cent to N1,325.00, and Cornerstone Insurance improved by 9.09 per cent to 60 Kobo.

On the flip side, Sunu Assurances topped the losers’ log after it lost 8.11 per cent to trade at 34 Kobo, Mutual Benefits fell by 7.69 per cent to 36 Kobo, Linkage Assurance dropped by 6.25 per cent to 45 Kobo, Veritas Kapital declined by 4.76 per cent to 20 Kobo, and PZ Cussons depleted by 4.65 per cent to N10.25.

Business Post reports that the market breadth was positive as there were 27 price gainers and 12 price losers, indicating a strong investor sentiment.

Investors transacted 2.9 billion shares worth N8.1 billion in 3,940 deals, in contrast to the 200.4 million shares worth N5.5 billion transacted in 3,716 deals on Wednesday, showing an increase in the trading volume, value and the number of deals by1,331.88 per cent, 47.27 per cent, and 6.03 per cent, respectively.

Universal Insurance traded 2.7 billion shares due to an off-market deal to close as the most active stock and was followed by AIICO Insurance, which sold 14.0 million stocks, GTCO transacted 13.9 million equities, Sterling Bank exchanged 10.3 million stocks, and Fidelity Bank traded 9.9 million equities.

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