Goldman says buy China, Russia stocks on valuations to reforms

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. recommended buying Chinese and Russian stocks as a pick up in growth in developed countries and government reforms boost prospects for the “least-expensive” emerging markets.

Goldman upgraded equities in the two countries to overweight, the equivalent of buy, from market weight, saying Chinese banks and Russian energy companies could experience “modest valuation expansion,” according to a report today. The New York-based bank kept Korea and Mexico at overweight.

The Micex Index in Moscow trades at 4.3 times projected 12-month earnings, while the multiple for the Shanghai Composite Index is 8.6, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with 10.5 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. China, the world’s second-largest economy, and Russia, the largest global energy exporter, are “relatively insulated” from concern about Federal Reserve stimulus tapering, which may start around March 2014, Goldman said.

Efficiency of capital allocation and the treatment of minority shareholders “are improving,” analysts including Christopher Eoyang said. “In Russia, we feel the market is over-focused on the importance of the price of oil, and unwilling to credit the effects of various reform programs, the drive for greater efficiency” and a potential increase of energy exports to Asia, it said.

As developed countries overtake their emerging counterparts in their contribution to global growth in 2014, China and Russia will benefit, Goldman said, also pointing to greater collaboration between the two in energy. The “net effect” of reforms unveiled after China’s Third Plenum meetings this month “will be to increase the sustainability and balance of Chinese economic growth,” it said.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has underperformed the developed-country gauge this year, declining 4.5%, compared with a 26% gain for the S&P 500 Index. In 2014, emerging-nation equities “should rebound as the developed market recovery becomes more evident,” Goldman said.

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