Vienna, 4 July 2013
CEE financial markets influenced by global liquidity debate
â€¢ 2013 GDP growth weakest since the crisis year 2009
â€¢ Mixed performance on CEE stock markets, negative impact due to weak economic activity and US monetary policy
â€¢ Croatiaâ€™s accession of the EU opens up long-term opportunities for the Zagreb stock exchange
â€¢ ATX target: 2,550 points by the end of year
â€¢ Favourites for Austria and CEE: RHI, Flughafen Wien, Lenzing, Netia, Komercni Banka, Egis, Magnit
â€žThe GDP readings for the first quarter of 2013 in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) were quite mixed, but negative trends set the overall tone. While Romania and Hungary beat the expectations, disappointing results were mainly seen in the regionâ€™s larger economies, such as Russia, Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic. In Austria, the flat result was in line with our estimates. In 2013, GDP growth has been the weakest since the crisis year of 2009,â€ starts Peter Brezinschek, head of Raiffeisen Research, a unit of Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI), his analysis in the recent publication for the third quarter â€žStrategies Austria & CEEâ€œ.
The situation in CEE did not change much in the second quarter, either. Most of the industrial production data for the spring indicate that activity is still in the process of bottoming out. Leading indicators, however, are pointing modestly higher, nourishing hopes of a tiny increase in GDP for the second half of the year. Nevertheless, moderate GDP growth rates will not return until 2014. â€œWe have lowered our projections for some individual countries, like Russia or Ukraine, leaving the CEE region as a whole with a real GDP growth forecast of around 2.3 per cent for the coming year, which still falls significantly short of the potential growth rate. The Austrian GDP may expand by up to 1.5 per cent in 2014, supported by net exports and private consumption, as well as the beneficial situation in Germany,â€ Brezinschek continues.
Austria: lower payroll taxes primarily to be financed by spending cuts
As inflation has also declined to new lows in most countries this year (with the exception of Russia and Romania), budget consolidation efforts are proceeding slowly. In Austria, the fact that the budget balances for 2013 and 2014 are estimated at less than 3 and 2 per cent of GDP, respectively, is due exclusively to the above-average growth in revenues, in particular the wage/ income tax. The revenues side is also supported by an average inflation rate of 1.9 per cent, which continues to be stubbornly higher than inflation in the Eurozone.
â€œConsequently, the reduction in payroll taxes, which will be necessary after the elections in our opinion, will have to be mainly financed by spending cuts in order to maintain Austriaâ€™s attractiveness as a business locationâ€, says Brezinschek regarding the upcoming Austrian general elections in September.
Short-term pressure on CEE currencies possible
The downward trend in interest rates across the CEE region including Turkey has been accompanied by a very expansive monetary policy by the ECB. The declines in inflation will allow for further cuts in interest rates until the end of the year, but these reductions will likely come to an end in the next six months, due to the global liquidity debate and expected rebounds in economic activity and inflation.
â€œUntil the spring, declining interest rate differentials were still supported by short-term capital flows, but in the short run these flows of â€œhot moneyâ€ are likely to turn around and thus generate pressure on CEE currencies. By year-end, however, we project somewhat better exchange rates versus the euro againâ€, says Brezinschek.
CEE equity markets hit by negative sentiment on the Emerging Markets
Whilst the declines in yields on most CEE government bonds reflect the positive side of the global liquidity supply, the equity markets are being hit more by negative sentiment on the Emerging Markets. In particular the big stock exchanges in Russia and Poland are impacted, whilst Hungary, Croatia and Romania were able to slightly be in the black since the beginning of the year. â€œDiscussions about a change in the US Fedâ€™s policy will have a detrimental impact on the CEE markets as well. Initially, the stock markets all over Eastern Europe will thus suffer through a period of corrections, but conditions should then improve towards the end of the year in 2013 as economic expectations begin to brighten upâ€, outlines Brezinschek his forecast for the second half of the year.
For government bonds, the negative impact of international capital flows is balanced out against positive developments in domestic interest rates. Russian government and corporate bonds offer attractive potential for returns over a horizon of three to12 months. Polish and Romanian government bonds are also recommended for purchase for a term of two to six months.
Croatiaâ€™s accession of the EU opens up long-term opportunities for Zagreb stock exchange
â€œHaving advanced into the role of a top performer in the first quarter, the Croatian CROBEX10 index plunged back again in the second. The stock market is suffering from the chronically weak growth, as the economy has been stuck in recession for five years now. For 2013, we expect a GDP-decrease of 0.5 per centâ€, starts Brezinschek his analysis for the latest EU Member State. â€œCroatiaâ€™s accession to the EU certainly opens up new long-term opportunities for the Zagreb stock exchange. An improvement in the risk perception of Croatia together with acceleration of the convergence process will probably bear fruit over the long term in the form of increased inflows of capital from abroad. However, these positive factors still have no impactâ€.
ATX target: 2,330 by end of September; 2,550 points by end of the year
Analysts of Raiffeisen Centrobank (RCB) predict the Austrian capital market as well as stock exchanges in CEE to move sideways over the summer months. The ATX target by the end of September is expected to be 2,330 points, corresponding to an increase of approximately 5 per cent in the third quarter. By the end of the year, the dynamic should gain even more momentum, taking the leading Austrian index to 2,550 points. Although yields of Austrian, German and US- government bonds saw substantial increases recently, Bernd Maurer, deputy chief analyst at RCB, highlights the attractiveness of equities in comparison to other asset categories, â€œWith a price/earnings ratio of 10.8, the ATX is attractively evaluated after the latest correction, and key evaluation figures should increase over the next twelve months in the light of a continuing low interest rate environmentâ€.
Given the cautious growth forecasts in Europe, Austrian companies enforced their activities in the growth markets Asia and South America as well as in the USA. RHI, voestalpine, Semperit, Palfinger and Lenzing belong to those companies who generate the highest turnovers in Emerging Markets.
Austrian equity favourites: RHI, Flughafen Wien, Lenzing
RHI, Flughafen Wien and Lenzing are seen as favourites among the Austrian equities by RCBâ€™s company research team. The positive assessment of RHI is still based on the expansion of the number of production sites in emerging markets (BRIC, USA) as well as on the positive effects generated from higher backward integration. The level of self-sufficiency with magnesite is currently 80 per cent. According to Maurer, the buy-recommendation for Flughafen Wien is well grounded in the visible positive effects stemming from cost saving programs that eventually did not lead to an increase of operating costs after the launch of the new terminal â€œCheck-in 3â€. Additionally, the latest and slightly disappointing number of passengers should see a turnaround in the coming months. RCB also highlights Lenzing, as the recent decline in the price was fundamentally not justified according to the analysts. Moreover, the company research team expects a stabilization of Lenzingâ€™s viscose prices.
CEE Top-Picks: Netia, Komercni Banka, Egis, Magnit
In CEE, the current favourites are Polish telecommunications company Netia because of a takeover phantasy; Czech Komercni Banka as the beneficiary of the increasing equity yield levels and the Hungarian pharma company Egis based on its high exposure in the rapidly growing Russian market. In Russia, the analysts are in favour of the locally traded share of the retail company Magnit.
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This press release contains recommendations in the context of Â§ 48f of the Austrian Stock Exchange Act (BÃ¶rseG). Disclaimer and Disclosures, see https://www.rcb.at/en/news-info/securities-prospectus/
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Raiffeisen Bank International AG (RBI) considers Austria, where it is a leading commercial and investment bank, as well as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) its home market. In CEE, RBI has a dense network of subsidiaries, leasing companies and a series of specialised financial services companies in 17 markets.
RBI is the only Austrian bank to have not only a strong presence in the worldâ€™s financial centres, but also branches and representative offices in Asia, the companyâ€™s other main geographical market.
All in all some 59,000 employees manage about 14.2 million customers at around 3,000 branches, most of them in CEE.
RBI is a fully consolidated subsidiary of Raiffeisen Zentralbank Ã–sterreich AG (RZB). RZB indirectly holds around 78.5 per cent of the shares; the rest account for the free float. RBI shares are listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange. RZB is the lead institute of the Raiffeisen Banking Group in Austria, the largest banking group in the country and group head office for the entire RZB Group, including RBI.
For further information, please contact:
Martin SCHREIBER (+43-1-71 707-1562, [email protected]) or
Anja KNASS (+43-1-71 707-5905, [email protected]).
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Raiffeisen Centrobank AG, the equity company of Raiffeisen Bank International, is a leading Austrian investment bank with a strong focus on the CEE region. It offers the entire range of services and products having to do with stock, derivatives and equity transactions in and around the stock market. On the basis of this position, the investment bank also offers exclusive individual Private Banking services.
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