Many listed stocks currently undervalued

Market watchers say investors keen on making the most of depressed share prices can look at selected property counters and banks. The market turmoil since the start of the year has seen share prices dive to multi-year lows.
Market watchers say investors keen on making the most of depressed share prices can look at selected property counters and banks. The market turmoil since the start of the year has seen share prices dive to multi-year lows.ST FILE PHOTO

More than half here trading at prices below intrinsic value

More than half of listed stocks here are trading at prices below "book value" - what a firm would fetch if its assets were sold off.

Market watchers say investors keen to make the most of these depressed share prices could consider selected property counters, and the banks. But stay away from the oil and gas sector, as well as commodities stocks for now, they advise.

The market turmoil since the beginning of the year has seen share prices dive to multi-year lows. The Straits Times Index has already fallen 11.67 per cent this year to close at 2,546.18 points yesterday.

About 50 counters on the local bourse with a market capitalisation of $1 billion or more are trading at a discount to their book values.

Mr Roger Tan, chief executive of Voyage Research, said some investors use this method to screen for undervalued stocks as it captures the position of a company more consistently than another measure, the price-to-earnings ratio.

This measure is particularly suited for valuing capital-intensive companies or financial businesses with a lot of assets on the books.

Out of the 50 mid- to large-cap companies considered to be undervalued by this measure, over two-thirds of them are in the property sector - developers or real estate investment trusts (Reits). "(The) discounts are reflecting the weak outlook and subdued market expectations," said DBS Equity Research senior vice-president Andy Sim.

Investors expect write-downs or impairment in asset values for the property counters, he noted.

"Our preference is to be selective and position in the resilient sectors, and selected offshore-focused S-Reits... such as Frasers Centrepoint Trust and A-Reit," said Mr Sim.

Ms Carmen Lee, head of OCBC Investment Research, noted that property stocks are trading at low price-to-book values compared with those in other sectors.

"We like Wing Tai, UOL, Keppel DC Reit, and Frasers Centrepoint Trust, among some of the property-related companies," she said.

Other counters that showed up in this list of undervalued stocks include those in the agriculture and commodities sector, oil and gas, as well as the banks. Ms Lee expects headwinds to remain for both commodity and oil and gas stocks, given the drastic drop in oil prices.

"Based on risk-reward ratio, we prefer to stay with stocks with better prospects or more defensive earnings such as Singtel, Sheng Siong, Thai Beverage and Raffles Medical," she said.

While the valuations may look attractive now, Mr Alex Wijaya, a trader with CMC Markets Singapore, does not feel optimistic about stocks in these few sectors.

"Perhaps the banks can be considered," he said, noting that the rising interest rates could be beneficial even though this could also mean a possibility having more non-performing loans on the books.

DBS Group Holdings and OCBC Bank have recently fallen below book value, while United Overseas Bank hovers near value.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'Many listed stocks currently undervalued'. Print Edition | Subscribe