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BSE’s DCI losses spark

The Botswana Stock Exchange’s Domestic Company Index (DCI) lost 95 points during the last three months to end the second quarter at 10,107.12 points, reflecting a decline of 0.93%. The decline in the second quarter follows the 3.8% decline experienced in the first quarter, therefore in the past 6 months the DCI has lost 4.74% and 5.45% in the last 12 months. In this quarter, as in the first quarter, the rally was led by property and tourism stocks while retail and the financial stocks have been most hit.  

It has been a rough start for global equities worldwide following a global markets rout that wiped trillions worth of equities valuation early in 2016 as the world’s largest economy fumbled. The precipitous fall in the Chinese equities led to a global contagion resulting in major markets taking a hit and sparking fresh concerns that a financial crisis is looming.

While the global markets were still reeling from the shock, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, the aftermath was a shakeup in the financial markets that saw leading indices shedding off points. The turmoil in the financial markets has sparked fears that another financial crisis similar to the one experienced in 2008 is looming large in the horizon.

The BSE’s DCI opened the year at 10,610.14 points and from there on the DCI has been in decline. The first quarter ended at 10,2o2.64, representing a decline of 3.8%. The losses were extended in the second quarter with the DCI failing to find a footing, causing concerns amongst investors that their investments this year might be lower than the previous year. The index has been put under pressure by retail and financial stocks which are seen as being more risky given the prevailing market conditions.

The second quarter picks up from the first quarter with both sides of the coin, the gainers and losers, comprising mostly of the same companies that featured in the previous quarter. The trend further continues with property stocks outperforming the DCI index, with the exception of Letlole La Rona.

The travel and leisure (tourism) stocks maintained their favourability amongst investors as they continue to appreciate in value. The financial stocks continue to struggle, with only the exception of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited and Barclays, as the two financial giants managed to post gains in both quarters. Big retailers also suffered losses signalling that investors are worried about the companies’ profitability given the stubbornly low inflation.

The top 5 gainers in the second quarter of the year were led by Cresta, the leading hotel operator in the country. Its share price has appreciated by 6.5% in the second quarter, bringing its yearly gains to 13%. New African Properties which broke records two weeks back after a single day trading of 26% of its issued shares worth P457.3 million has impressed with year to date returns of 10.6% after gaining 6.2% in the last three months. The Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited remained in the top five performers after a good showing in the first quarter. It retained third position in the second quarter after advancing by 3.8%, totalling its yearly returns to 9%. Chobe, a tourism outfit which operates luxurious lodges saw its share price jump by 5.28% in the quarter under review while its year to date gains is at 8.4%. Turnstar Holdings wrapped up our top five gainers as the real estate developer managed an impressive 6.2% increase in share price, bringing its yearly returns to 5.9%.

Other notable positive movements in the second quarter include RDC properties which brought in 3.13% while its year to date returns stand at 5.20%. Wilderness Holdings gained 5.2%, extending its yearly gains to 3.1%. Primetime moved by 1.3% resulting in 3.8% of year to date returns. Meanwhile Barclays remains the only bank so far this year to deliver share price gains as it locked in 2.9% in yearly returns.  

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited listed in April. The company on the first day of trading closed atP1.30, an incredible 30% surge from P1. However, it the shares quickly retreated and briefly traded for around P1.20 until settling for the current P1.10 price, which is still a win to the shareholders as it represent a 10% premium on the initial P1 they paid during the Initial Public Offering(IPO).

On the losing side, Standard Chartered Bank which is the oldest bank to operate in Botswana was the biggest loser as its share price plunged to new lows as it lost 19% and bringing the yearly losses to 24%. The embattled bank is having a bad year in the stock market after it posted profit which was 85% lower than the previous period. Letshego, the pan-African financial services provider continues to struggle despite its highly liquid stock. Letshego has seen its share price plummet by as much as 2.4% in the second quarter, bringing the yearly losses to 14%. The financial stocks continued the downward trend as First National Bank Botswana dropped 5% resulting in year to date loss of 11%. Choppies Enterprises had its share price tank by 2.4% in the last 3 months, extending its yearly losses to 9%. The furniture shop giant, Furnmart, lost 3% in the second quarter, delivering year to date loss of 4.4%.

The oldest companies in the stock market in terms of listing, Sefalana and Sechaba have had subdued share movements, in the end the two giants are still yet to post positive gains, with Sefalana down by 3.62% in yearly returns while Sechaba is trailing behind by yearly losses of about 1.7%.

The usually inactive Foreign Domestic Index has been on a winning streak as the index recorded positive growth of about 1.1%, pushing the FCI year to date gains by 1.5%.

The index was rallied by Botswana Diamonds which delivered 143% returns in the second quarter, while its yearly gains are at an impressive 162%. Lucara Diamond Corporation has not only impressed so far with its exceptional diamonds as its share price has been soaring since the discovery of Lesedi La Rona. The yearly returns stand at 70% after gaining about 45% in the second quarter. While companies trading under the foreign counter remained largely flat, Shumba Energy share price slid down by 9%, bringing its yearly losses to 10%.

With the first half of the year dusted, the question on many investors’ minds is whether the stock markets will improve without any further shocks or go through another crisis. In Botswana’s case, the probability of the DCI turning around to deliver good returns remains shaky. According to analysts at Trading Economics, they estimate it to trade at 9980.00 points in the third quarter, a further 1.3% decline.

“Botswana Stock Market (BSI DCI) Forecasts are projected using an autoregressive integrated moving average (ARIMA) model calibrated using our analysts’ expectations. We model the past behaviour of Botswana Stock Market (BSI DCI) using vast amounts of historical data and we adjust the coefficients of the econometric model by taking into account our analysts assessments and future expectations. The forecast for – Botswana Stock Market (BSI DCI) – was last predicted on Thursday, June 30, 2016,” they revealed in a research note.

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Botswana on high red alert as AML joins Covid-19 to plague mankind

21st September 2020
Botswana-on-high-alert-as-AML-joins-Covid-19-to-plague-mankind-

This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.

The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.

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Finance Committee cautions Gov’t against imprudent raising of debt levels

21st September 2020
Finance Committe Chairman: Thapelo Letsholo

Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.

He was speaking in  Parliament on Tuesday delivering  Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a  motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.

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Gov’t Investment Account drying up fast!  

21st September 2020
Dr Matsheka

Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.

The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.

The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.

The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.

This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.

Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.

Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.

However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.

Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.

When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.

This  as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.

Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.

The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.

Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.

In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.

Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.

Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.

Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.

Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance   Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”

He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”

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