Positive outlook for the Philippines at the Citigold Annual Client Event

 Positive outlook for the Philippines at the Citigold Annual Client Event
Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed

Fund managers are bullish about the prospects of the Philippines at the 2022 Citigold Annual Chinese New Year Market Outlook Webinar hosted by Citi.

The virtual event was hosted by Citicorp Financial Services and Insurance Brokerage Philippines Inc. (CFSI) President Ramon Melchor Tejero, with Citi Philippines CEO Aftab Ahmed welcoming the around 600 clients in attendance.

A brief client survey was conducted by Tejero at the start of the event. In the survey, 50 percent of respondents said they are invested in equities when asked of their current wealth portfolio bias. When asked two years into the pandemic how their investment appetite has changed, 49 percent said they are invested in income-generating assets (like dividend paying investment funds) other than fixed income securities or bonds. Finally, 56 percent view the upcoming presidential elections as the biggest concern in the current investment landscape.

Aftab kicked off the evening on a very positive note, “The pandemic has posed challenges for the past two years and while it has taken a toll on business and economic activity, the economy as well as many businesses have remained resilient. This is substantiated by the fact that the macroeconomic indicators for the country have remained strong and the country’s ratings have remained unchanged. OFW remittances continue to support spending by consumers and the BPO sector is expected to continue growing. We are highly confident that the economy will continue to move on to an even stronger footing this year and that business activity will continue to increase.”

He also thanked Citigold clients for their continued support, “We would like to assure you that we will remain highly focused on delivering relevant financial solutions to address your banking needs and wealth management priorities.”

The event’s featured speakers echoed the positive sentiment.

BPI Investment Management Inc. president and chief investment officer Roberto Martin Enrile said in the equities market, the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) is seen hitting 8,600 this year, driven by the 27 percent growth in the sector weighted earnings on top of the trending 38 to 39 percent earnings per share (EPS) growth seen in 2021

The forecast was formulated late last year prior to the recent resurgence of COVID-19 infections due to the more contagious Omicron variant.

Leading the pack, Enrile explained, is the property sector with a more than 40 percent growth as mobility increases and demand for office space resumes, followed by conglomerates and banks due to impending rate hikes as well as better net interest margins.

Christopher Wong, client portfolio strategist for Southeast Asia at Fidelity International, said inflation has been getting investors’ attention in the past couple of months as the global economy continues to battle the spread of the Omicron variant.

Wong added that inflation has risen quite sharply over the last few quarters due to supply chain disruptions which are likely to normalize over the short term as well as rising wages, increasing housing costs and prices especially in the US, and climate change policies.

For his part, BlackRock director and product strategist Fred Wood said that the Omicron variant could be the start of the end of the COVID pandemic as high transmission rate drive population immunity but also with lower severity.

Wood said healthcare stocks would continue to do well as the number of people over the age of 80 is seen to increase to 290 million by 2050 from the current 140 million. On top of the healthcare sector, Wood is also positive on the sustainable energy theme particularly in the areas of clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation.

Economists and analysts have penned a rosy outlook for the Philippines as it continues to recover from the impact of the global health crisis by accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines leading to the further reopening of the economy.

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