Al Rajhi’s share jump isn’t just another TASI rally

Al Rajhi’s share jump isn’t just another TASI rally
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Updated 11 October 2021

Al Rajhi’s share jump isn’t just another TASI rally

Al Rajhi’s share jump isn’t just another TASI rally

MOSCOW/RIYADH/CAIRO: When the Saudi stock market index sees a rally, usually most shares get an increase in value. However, this isn't the case for Al Rajhi Bank.

Al Rajhi Bank, whose shares on Sunday recorded their highest level since April 2006 at SR135.20 ($36.05), is in a league of its own among all Gulf Cooperation Council Islamic or Shariah-compliant banks.

"Al Rajhi Bank has been showing significant earning growth (double digit) despite the negative impact of economic lockdown last year, and many analysts still see the double digit growth continuing this year which explains the rise of the stock price ahead of the third quarter earnings announcement,” Mohammed Al-Suwayed, CEO of Razeen Capital told Arab News. 

Islamic banks and conventional banks usually have almost the same quality of assets in the GCC; non-performing loans (NPL) ratio in Islamic banks was 3.5 percent in 2020 compared to the slightly higher 3.8 percent for conventional ones according to S&P Global. This also applies to the coverage ratio. Thus, differences between the two types of banks as a whole are sometimes brushed off.

However, the Islamic Al Rajhi Bank has been experiencing a solid and steady performance compared to other banks in the Kingdom and the region as a whole. These strong fundamentals probably helped in its share’s jump to the highest price in more than 15 years.

In terms of the value of total assets, It is the largest Islamic bank in the Gulf region. As of June 30 2021, its total assets were valued at more than $146 billion which is also the fifth largest in the region when we include conventional banks in the comparison.

S&P Global Ratings predicts the bank’s NPL ratio to be 0.69 percent by the end of 2021. 

The bank’s selective process in providing loans means this is less than half of the other Saudi banks’ readings and the lowest among Saudi and other GCC countries where data were available: Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE. 

The bank’s return on assets ratio is similarly strong, forecast to be 2.32 percent for 2021 — higher than all of its competitors in both the Kingdom and the region. 

Not all the numbers are as positive, however. Al Rajhi did not have the best cost metric in 2019 and 2020.

But it is still expected to have the lowest ratio in the Kingdom in 2021, with S&P projecting it to be just 0.71 percent by the end of the year. This is marginally lower than other Saudi banks.

Al Rajhi shares traded with price-to-book value of 5, the highest multiple among Saudi bank stocks, analysts at KAMCO Invest pointed out in a report covering the GCC banking sector in Q2 2021. 

For example, Saudi National Bank shares traded with price-to-book multiple of 1.8, Riyad Bank 1.8, Saudi British Bank 1.3, Banque Saudi Fransi 1.4, Alinma Bank 1.7.

Al Rajhi stock traded with a dividend yield of 2.3 percent compared to 2.2% for Saudi National Bank. 

Its shares strongly outperformed the rest of Saudi banks in terms of growth since the beginning of 2021 till end of June.

The stock grew by 67 percent compared to 40 percent for Alinma, the second best performing banking stock at the time, according to KAMCO invest.

 

 


Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks

Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks
Updated 12 sec ago

Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks

Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks

US Federal Reserve officials signaled on Wednesday an interest rates raise starting March, with the decision driven by high inflation, a tightening labor market and the fast rebound of the economy as pandemic restrictions are eased.

Although international investors are nervously watching the Fed’s next move, Gulf financial researchers remain positive on the region’s prospects.

Soaring oil prices are shielding Gulf economies from the US’s tightening of monetary policies, as they provide them with high liquidities. 

A strong banking sector and commodities market are to also profit positively from the Fed’s next moves, according to Jaap Meijer, head of research at Arqaam Capital.

“While we are cautious about the US equity market, as high valuations for technology shares unwind, we remain constructive on GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) equity markets,” he said, adding: “We expect GCC monetary policymakers to reflect US Fed rate hikes entirely (such as in Saudi or the UAE which currencies are pegged to the dollar) or at least partially (in other GCC countries).”

“However, GCC banks, which comprise 40 percent of the region’s indexes, will enormously benefit from higher net interest margins, particularly Saudi banks.” he underlines, as banks' profitability tends to increase with high interest rates, boosting their net margins.

Meijer warns nonetheless that he is cautious about Egypt’s equity markets. 

“Egypt runs at a low single-digit current account deficit and has a high USD dependency, despite strong foreign exchange reserves. We expect fiscal and monetary policy to be managed very tightly and could see a rate hike by the end of the year, which will likely weigh on equity valuations, as T-bills remain an attractive alternative for local investors,” adds Meijer.

Regarding regional commodities, higher commodity prices, particularly Aluminum and Urea, will remain supportive for the Gulf commodity sector, explains Meijer. Urea has important uses as a fertilizer and feed supplement. It is also a starting material for the manufacture of plastics and drugs as well as batteries.

This would result in higher index weights that should continue to support Qatar and Saudi Arabia valuations. 

“We see M&A arbitrage and further economic reforms being a tailwind,” he added.

While international bond markets will be negatively affected by the interest hike, the GCC will be able to mitigate the impact. 

Bonds markets are fixed income instruments used by corporations and governments as a borrowing tool. 

“Liquidity will most likely become less abundant as the asset purchases will end in early March, while the balance sheet run-off will begin after rates have started to rise. Nonetheless credit spreads in the GCC should remain tight on strong liquidity, with almost all governments running large fiscal surpluses as oil prices remain high,” emphasizes Meijer.

The region’s local sovereign wealth funds will continue internationalizing and diversifying their holdings. 

“They can afford a risk-on approach, reaping benefits from potential market locations as the US. Fed tightens its monetary policy,” he concludes.


Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn
Updated 27 min 41 sec ago

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian petrochemical firm SABIC Agri-Nutrients Co. has seen a nearly fourfold jump in its profits in 2021, buoyed by an increase in selling prices.

Amid global economic recovery in 2021, net profit soared to SR5.23 billion ($1.2 billion), compared to SR1.29 billion a year earlier, according to a bourse filing.

Revenues almost tripled, reaching SR9.59 billion, and the profit per share was up from SR3 to SR11.

The company, half-owned by SABIC, attributed the profit hike to higher selling prices of products.

However, profits were capped by an increase in inventory as well as general and administrative expenses, the firm said in a statement to the Saudi exchange, Tadawul.

The homegrown fertilizer producer earlier said it plans to take over 49 percent of Dubai-based ETG Inputs Holdco’s share capital amid a SR1.2 billion deal. 

 


Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell

Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell
Getty Images
Updated 54 min 58 sec ago

Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell

Saudi stocks end flat amid earnings season, crude oil rally: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s stock market was flat at the closing bell on Thursday, as investors saw a wave of earnings announcements lead to cautious trading, despite a rally in the energy market.

Brent crude oil crossed $90 per barrel, and US benchmark WTI crude oil reached $88.3 per barrel as of 3:48 p.m. Saudi time.

The main TASI index closed at 12,179 points, while the parallel market, Nomu, ended at 25,660 points.

TASI was pushed higher by gains in Saudi Kayan Petrochemical Co. but weighed down by National Petrochemical Co., known as Petrochem, and the Saudi Industrial Investment Group, even as all three firms reported earnings.

Saudi Kayan saw its share price soar over 2 percent, after it turned from losses into profits of SR2.39 billion ($640 million) in 2021.

Shares in Petrochem and the Saudi Industrial Investment Group were down 1.2 and 0.9 percent respectively, despite seeing major profit hikes on an annual basis.

The Kingdom’s largest valued bank, Al Rajhi Bank, and one of its leading petrochemical firms, Sipchem, were down 0.7 and 2.9, respectively.

Saudi Automotive Services Co., known as SASCO, soared nearly 10 percent, topping the gainers for a second consecutive day.

SASCO had earlier acquired 80 percent of gas station operator NAFT Services Limited Co. for SR1.1 billion.

Allied Cooperative Insurance Group led the fallers, with its shares declining almost 4 percent.


Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit

Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 27 January 2022

Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit

Rising costs, pandemic curbs take a bite out of McDonald’s profit
  • Sales rise in Italy, Germany, France, the US and the UK boosted total revenue by 13 percent to $6.01 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31

McDonald’s Corp. missed revenue and profit expectations on Thursday, as higher costs and dismal sales in its over 4,500 restaurants in Australia and China due to pandemic-led curbs ate into gains from growth in the United States in the fourth quarter.


Operating costs rose 14 percent to $3.61 billion as supply chain bottlenecks led the world’s largest burger chain to spend more for ingredients such as chicken and beef, as well as packaging material, while it also raised wages in the United States.


Shares fell nearly 3 percent as sales in China contracted after some cities banned dining in restaurants to control fresh outbreaks ahead of the Winter Olympics. In Australia, sales growth remained muted compared to a year earlier.


“COVID-19 continued to result in varying levels of government restrictions on restaurant operating hours, limited dine-in capacity and, in some cases, dining room closures,” McDonald’s said.


Sales rise in Italy, Germany, France, the US and the UK boosted total revenue by 13 percent to $6.01 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31, but still the company missed market expectation of $6.03 billion, according to Refinitiv data.


Meanwhile, expenses for the burger chain that has more than 40,000 restaurants in over 100 countries have been rising. While McDonald’s had raised prices in 2021, higher costs continue to weigh on profit as it was forced to increase wages to retain workers in the United States, its largest market.


On a per share basis, McDonald’s earned $2.23, but missed analysts’ average estimate of $2.34.


Its US same-store sales increased 7.5 percent compared to analysts’ estimate of a 6.8 percent rise, thanks to the launch of special menu items such as McRib, loyalty program-driven growth in digital sales and higher prices.


Global same-store sales jumped 12.3 percent, compared with Wall Street estimates of a 10.73 percent rise. 


UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn
Image: Shutterstock
Updated 27 January 2022

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn

UAE’S First Abu Dhabi Bank books profits of $3.4bn
  • The outstanding performance reflects indicators of economic recovery and positive momentum for the bank's core business

RIYADH: Largest bank in the UAE, First Abu Dhabi Bank announced its financial results of the last fiscal year with profits of 12.5 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion).

This figure compares to 10.6 billion dirhams in 2020, representing a 19 percent increase, according to a statement.

The outstanding performance reflects indicators of economic recovery and positive momentum for the bank's core business, the statement revealed.

Moreover, the group’s revenue saw a 17 percent surge thanks to strong trading performance and growth in fee-generating business. This contributed to alleviating the repercussions of low interest rates, the statement said.

Operational costs rose when compared to the corresponding period in 2020. This comes as a result of the persisting investments in digital and strategic initiatives as well as taking into consideration Egypt’s Bank Audi business.

Asset quality maintained adequate rates thanks to the proper management of risks and stimulus measures. These were within the framework of the comprehensive economic support plan tailored for the country’s central bank.

The group also maintained strong levels of liquidity, financing, and capital altogether.

Founded in 2017, FAB provides financial solutions, products, and services through its corporate and investment banking and personal banking franchises.