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GCC equity valuations look attractive.

Summary: UAE is the most preferred MENA market

By Babu Das Augustine, Banking Editor

Dubai: GCC equity markets are looking increasingly attractive after the broad-based sell off since the summer and these markets represent a buying opportunity, particularly with appealing stock valuations and stronger earnings momentum, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

"There are broad-based buying opportunities, but stock selection is becoming the key. We retain our bias for markets with robust macro, attractive valuations, consistent earnings delivery and/or superior earnings growth. These factors make the UAE our most preferred Mena [Middle East and North Africa] market and Kuwait as our preferred GCC Frontier market," said Hootan Yazhari, Head of Mena & Frontier Markets Equity Research.

The sharp correction across frontier markets since the summer has also yielded strong opportunities across many other markets, including Saudi Arabia. In this context, Yazhari said stock selection (rather than market selection) is becoming more crucial and advocate a focus on quality and mispriced opportunities.

"As our most preferred attractively valued GCC market, the UAE offers long term potential and healthy earnings momentum. UAE is the only market with net earnings upgrades Year-To-Date, and our top picks are Etisalat, Emaar and ADCB," said Yazhari.

Although valuations in Saudi Arabia look attractive, macroeconomic environment keeps analysts cautious on these opportunities. "While in Saudi Arabia, opportunities have risen as the market is no longer expensive but we believe it's time to get selectively bullish," said Yazhari.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Nov 19, 2015
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