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Mutual funds see stocks rising; eye financials, energy: poll

Mutual funds see stocks rising; eye financials, energy: poll
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First Published: Wed, Mar 31 2010. 01 31 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Mar 31 2010. 01 31 PM IST
New Delhi: Indian shares, which touched a 25-month high on Monday, could rise further in the June quarter with financials and energy stocks finding favour among domestic fund managers, a Reuters poll showed.
Five of the nine respondents to a Reuters Asset Allocation Poll conducted between 23 March and 30 March said India’s benchmark stock index could rise further in the next three months. Two said the index could rise more than 5%.
Foreign funds have pumped around $3.9 billion in Indian shares this year, most of it in March, helping the BSE Sensex rise by about 7% in the current month.
“The (FII) flows are too strong, there is risk appetite and the concerns regarding sovereign debt are not so high,” said David Pezarkar, head of equity at Shinsei’s Indian mutual fund unit.
“There will be bouts - but I don’t think that is going to change the underlying trend.”
Five fund managers said the BSE Sensex, which currently trades at one-year forward price to earnings multiple of around 17 times, is fairly valued, while three said it was overvalued.
Four fund managers said they would decrease the cash levels in their portfolios, whereas three said they would sell equities.
Overall, nearly 7% of assets under India’s equity diversified funds were held as cash at February end, data from fund tracker ICRA Online showed.
Though five managers are of the view that market would continue its northward journey, some believe it could fall in the next quarter.
A further rise in the equity markets could give way to profit booking opportunities, Tridib Pathak, director equity at IDFC Asset Management, said.
Sectoral picks
Most fund managers are optimistic about the financial services space, which accounted for 18% of diversified equity fund assets in February, their biggest sectoral bet.
Six respondents said they would scale up exposure in the sector while two said they would maintain their current exposure.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) surprised markets by raising its key lending and borrowing rates by 25 bps on 19 March. However, bankers said last week that Indian banks see stable lending rates and profits in the near term despite RBI’s recent move.
The energy sector, which is the second most preferred space, would also be in focus with five fund managers looking at further increasing their allocation.
A recovering Indian economy might also prompt money managers to raise exposure to basic engineering sector, which controlled more than one tenth of diversified equity assets in February.
Five fund managers said they would increase investments in the sector while four would retain exposure, the poll showed.
Three of the poll respondents said they would increase their allocation to shares of construction companies, while four said they would maintain their holdings.
If targets have to be met, the country would require accelerated spending on infrastructure, which should benefit the construction space, said Sanjay Sinha, chief executive at L&T Mutual Fund.
“The outlook for the 12th Five Year Plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure is an even bigger space,” he added.
However, autos, consumer non-durables and healthcare stocks could face some selling pressure in the next three months, the poll showed.
Balanced fund managers, those who invest in both stocks and bonds, are also looking at reducing their allocation to cash.
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First Published: Wed, Mar 31 2010. 01 31 PM IST
More Topics: Stocks | Shares | BSE | Sensex | Nifty |