• Access bank, Dangote, FBNH, others top list

By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU

Despite the ravaging pandemic which has done incalculable damage to the health of the economy, especially the capital market, nevertheless, some stocks have remained bullish in defiance of the shock of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Good knowledge of the market will no doubt help in making an investment decision.  On the floor of the Nigerian Stocks Exchange, there are over 160 listed equities and the honest fact is that no investor, either institutional or retail investor could be said to have invested in all these equities.

We all want to take investment risk on those stocks we can approximately vouch for in terms of solidity and profitability. Without mincing word, some stocks have done well consistently with or without COVID-19.

ACCESS BANK

Watchers of the capital market over the years must have noticed the bullish nature of Access Bank Plc for the past years. This bank which has evolved from a fringe player and little known Nigerian Bank into a first-rate financial institution has indeed carved a niche for itself. Today, the bank is one of the tier 1 banks (five largest banks in Nigeria) in terms of assets, loans, deposits and branch network.

The bank from its beginning has achieved renown having swallowed two other major banks – Intercontinental and Diamond banks – and becoming one of the strongest financial institutions in Africa.

In 2005, Access Bank acquired Marina Bank and Capital Bank (formerly commercial bank Crédit Lyonnais Nigeria) by merger. Then what followed was shocking as it acquired the great Intercontinental Bank. Then it acquired Diamond Bank.

Access Bank has performed over time. Ranking them Access belongs to tier 1 Bank. Mr Herbert Wigwe, its managing director/CEO is a household name as far as banking is concerned. He is taught to be intelligent and he is a good manager. They leveraged on the outlets of Diamond bank, so they can penetrate and deploy their product directly to the people. The price of the stock has also performed over time. Its five years’ earnings are impressive.

NESTLE

Without argument, for the past six decades now, Nestle has to be the choice companion for families within Nigeria and the Diaspora. It is one of the few multinationals that have become brand in the country.

The company has positioned itself as one of the largest food and beverage companies on the continent. It produces an extensive range of products for the retail and wholesale sectors. The company has popular brands in the market. These brands include Maggi, Golden Morn, Nan, Lactogen, Nutrend and Cerelac. Brands in the beverages segment include Milo, Chocomilo, Nescafe, Nestle Pure Life and Nido.

Expectedly, its leadership in the sector and its huge market size gives it a huge advantage. The company has strong fundamentals, which has predominantly governed its position as a market leader, its years of experience, and its existence in the FMCG sector.

All know that the company has a good shareholding structure which has translated into an advantage as it has minor float size and most people holding the stock rarely want to sell. This is responsible for how high the stock price soars on the trading floor.

In earnings, the company has consistently proven its rewarding capacity with a timely and periodic dividend payout.

DANGOTE CEMENT

Aliko Dangote himself, the founder of Dangote Cement, is a big brand. In the country today, Dangote Cement is number 1 cement. If we compare its turnover with other cement companies, Dangote Cement has the biggest turnover.

Looking at the dividend Dangote paid it is as high as N16. If we look at the price performances, Dangote Cement has performed at price over a long range of time. Everybody knows that cement will continue to sell as far as development in the country is concerned.

Dangote cement is the first choice brand in construction. If there is any construction project of any government, it must be Dangote Cement. This has rubbed off over the years on its profitability.

FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA HOLDINGS (FBNH)

There is no bank in the country as popular as First Bank, although the financial giant is suffering from a non-performing loan. The bank has been the number one deposit bank for decades. Large government money is inside FBNH. Over the years, the bank has been able to establish itself and has been able to penetrate all the nooks and crannies of the country.

In one area of non-performing loans, the bank has done quite creditably well in cleaning their book. Most analysts believe that if what happened to FBNH happened to three other banks, they would have died.

Reports have it that what FBNH has written off as non-performing loan was sufficed to start another five banks. It is a testimony to its strength that the bank is still standing tall.

Blessed with sound management, First Bank also has good products. There is hardly any portfolio that you don’t find First Bank, no matter how small the unit is. The price has performed over the years and the stock is very resilient. Its five years of earnings have consistently remained impressive.

MTN NIGERIA

Whether we like it or not MTN is the preferred network. They had to bring MTN’s par value to 20 kobo. We all know that at the Exchange, par value is normally 50 kobo. MTN came down to 20 kobo so that the pricing will be right. If MTN had initially listed at 50 kobo, many investors would not have been able to buy.

MTN paid interim and final dividend even while they were limited or private. It is not strange as the network has always pioneered most of the revolution as far as the mobile network is concerned. Recall currently they are partnering with Netflix. You can stream Netflix on MTN.

No one will controvert the fact that it is indeed the biggest network as far as communication is concerned in Nigeria and they are consistent in dividend payment. Its three years of earnings history has been impressive.

ZENITH BANK

If we take a critical look at Zenith Bank’s dividend payment from 2015 to 2020 one will notice that in 2015, Zenith Bank paid the dividend of N1.77, the last dividend paid was N2.80. The bank’s dividend yield is fantastic and has always been above 10%. And no one can argue the fact that the financial giant has always been consistent with the interim and final dividend payment.

Though the leadership hovers around the person of Jim Ovia, the management has been superb and they also have a good product. At the initial stage, the bank was elitist as the minimum balance required in the account was N50,000. But now that they are making efforts to reach everybody, it is possible to open an account with zero balance.

They have done well over the years. The turnover, profit after tax, and earnings per share have grown over there years. More so, their five years’ earnings history has been superb.

GUARANTY TRUST BANK

Guaranty Trust Bank has arguably the best corporate governance. Their shareholding structure is working for them. The financial giant has grown tremendously over the years.

The market is pricing Guaranty over Zenith Bank because the shareholding structure in Guaranty is not skewed to one person.

Analysts believe business continuity in Guaranty Trust Bank is much higher because the shareholding structure is not listed to one man. The price of GT Bank has performed very well over time. The share price has gotten as high as N60 in 2018 and it is N25 now.

Quite noticeable is the consistent growth in turnover, profit after tax and earnings per share of the bank. And its five years’ earnings have won the bank praises.

UBA

One has to tie UBA to Elumelu and Heirs Holdings to understand its success. The owners of Heirs Holdings have never failed in any of the business they handle UBA, Africa Prudential, UCAP, STB, Transcorp and the rest.

UBA has grown and they have been consistent in dividend payment. It has also performed as far as price is concerned. The management of UBA is tight with the corporate governance upheld to the utmost.

Other fundamentally sound stocks that also defied the lockdown and depressed market include Okomu Oil Palm, Nigeria Breweries, Bua Cement, FCMB and Fidelity Bank.

Bolaji Awala, a research analyst at Statisca told BusinessHallmark that “The rally on the index is largely due to bullish run witnessed in UNILEVER (+61.90%) to settle at N17 per share from N10 the prior month, likewise NB (+44.33%) to close the month at N43.3 per share from N30.00 the prior month, also MOBIL (+32.94%) appreciated from 160.9 per share to close at N213.9 per share, then STANBIC (+25.61) closed at N35.8 per share to N28.5 per share, and ZENITH (+18.18%) fastened to N16.9 per share from N14.3 per share.” He noted that some stocks that have sound fundamentals, good management and proven corporate governance have defied COVID-19.

In terms of the outlook for June, Ambrose Omorkodion, chief research officer at Investa,s said,

“In June, we expect the market to remain positive as bargain hunting activities continue to drive the market as well as investors looking out for dividend-paying stocks as we approach the H2 earnings season. However, we do not rule out the occurrence of price-taking and sell down by investors.”

In his reaction to the bullish nature of some stocks, Olufemi Omoyele, management expert said “Foreign investors, being trapped at the moment and unable to take FX out, are taking a position in equity.

“Local investors are absorbing more risks due to the low yields in fixed income and stocks are currently returning better than Treasury bills and bonds. Finally, oil price recovery in May relative to what was seen in April further strengthened investor sentiment.

 

 

Share price as at 11/06/2020

 

NB                                          N42

Zenith Bank–                       -N16.65

GTb-                                       N 24

FBNH-                   -N5.35

Access                                    N6.8

UBA                                       N6.75

Nestle                                     N995

 

As at 31/03/2020

 

NB                                          N26.75

Nestle-                                    N765

Gtb-                                        N17.70

Zenith                                    N14.3

Access                                    N5.75

UBA-                                      N5.8

FBNH                                    N4.25