The South African stock market had another strong month (FTSE/JSE Capped SWIX
+2.7% MoM), leaving it amongst only a few major global markets to end February in
positive territory (Brazilian Bovespa +0.9% MoM, Shanghai Composite +3% MoM and
FTSE-100 +0.3% MoM). YTD, the performance of the local bourse (+7.6% in US dollar
terms) is second only to the Brazilian stock market (+16% YTD in US dollar terms).
There were several trading updates during the month which meaningfully impacted
share prices, including Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO; -25% MoM), which
surprised the market by announcing that it will liquidate its Australian operations,
Telkom (-17% MoM), which reported slowing mobile subscriber growth, and Tiger
Brands (-11% MoM), which reported lower bread volumes and margin compression
due to its inability to recover cost increases.
At the other end of the spectrum, the banks released better-than-expected trading
updates, showing strong earnings momentum and likely more benign credit losses than
anticipated (Nedbank +15% MoM, Standard Bank +9% MoM and FirstRand +7%
MoM). The miners were another source of strong performance in February (+17% MoM
in aggregate), with gold miners leading the way (+29% MoM) as the price of gold rallied
6% MoM, with investors turning to perceived safe-haven assets on fears related to the
conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Platinum miners (+25% MoM) followed platinum group metal (PGM) prices higher,
initially on optimism around decreasing supply chain constraints driving increasing
vehicle production, but later in the month on the back of fears that Russia (which
produces c. 44% of global palladium and 14% of platinum) might struggle to export
PGMs because of the conflict.
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