The Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share index ended 2019 with a year to date loss of 14.6%. This marks the second year straight of losses after it ended 2018 with a loss of 17.81%.
The index has been negative for the most part of the year as both local and foreign investors abstain for reasons such as the 2019 general elections, government policies, trade wars, volatility in oil prices and other geopolitical uncertainties across the globe.
Sea of red: Nigerian Stocks posted negative returns every month in 2019 except for February +0.92% making this year the worst since 2016. The All Share Index also posted double-digit losses every month from July to December 2019. The worst month for Nigerian Stocks was in November 2019 posting a negative Year to Date return of 16.48%.
In May 2019, stocks rallied to a month on month gain of 6%, the highest for the year, before falling back into negative territory as investors appetite wanned. The swearing-in of the Buhari led government did little to assuage investors as concerns mounted for the economy.
New listing fizzles out: Also in May 2019, Nigeria’s largest mobile telecommunication company, MTN, listed helping boost market capitalization and the All-share Index. MTN listed about 20.3 billion shares at N90 per share shooting straight to no 2 of the most capitalized stock on the exchange behind Dangote Cement. It soon blew past the cement company has its share price soared to N150. MTN Closed at N105 gaining just 16.6% YTD and ending the year with a market cap of N2.1 trillion behind Dangote Cement at N2.4 trillion.
Airtel followed later in the year listing 3,758,151,504 ordinary shares at an offering price of N363 per ordinary share. The stock closed in negative territory falling by 25.1% year to date.
Top gainers and losers: During the year about 34 stocks out of 166 posted gains with penny stocks leading the charts. Cornerstone Insurance was the best stock posting a return of 125%. This was followed by AG Leventis and Thomas Wyatt with 104% and 65% respectively. Access Bank posted the best amongst banks and Blue Chip stocks with a return of 47%. Zenith, FBNH, UBA, and GTB all closed the year in the red.
The worst stock for the year was International Breweries posting a negative return of 69%. All brewery stocks also posted losses. A whopping 99 stocks in total posted losses during the year.
Outlook for 2020: Nigerian stocks are largely undervalued as most of them currently trade at historically low price-earnings ratios. However, demand will likely continue to be weak in 2020 until the government aligns its monetary and fiscal policies. Investors are still wary of the exchange rate stability amidst mounting concerns that the CBN’s interest rate disconnect could persist in the new year.
Currently, the CBN offers low-interest rates for its treasury bills, while it pays a much higher interest rate for OMO bills. There is also the odd fear about the rising inflation rate which could play significantly into the exchange rate situation in 2020.