In its latest meeting OPEC decided to maintain its oil output. This has triggered another slide in global crude oil prices. There are growing expectations that prices may remain low for longer than expected period.
One of Pakistan’s leading brokerages houses has analyzed possible implications of lower oil prices on the local stock market under three oil price assumptions of Arabian Light crude (WTI and Brent are less related to Pakistan as the country buys crude mainly from the Middle eastern countries. The brokerage house has based its analysis on three assumptions: 1) US$35/bbl, 2) US$40/bbl and 3) US$45/bbl) against its base case of US$50/bbl.
Remaining a key positive on the macro front, significant improvements are expected on 1) the BoP position on lower oil imports and 2) controlled inflation opening up room for continued monetary easing.
However, from the market's perspective this scenario will be a drag on index heavyweight Oil & Gas sector. Additionally, lower interest rates will continue weighing on banking sector's performance, however boding well for leveraged plays and high dividend plays.
Pakistan continues to benefit from lower oil prices, where another slide in the commodity's price holds positive implications for the country. Sensitivity analysis undertaken by the brokerage house indicates that with US$5/bbl reduction in CY16 will result in additional import bill savings of US$8 million/annum where oil averaging below US$45/bbl could comfortably lead to current account surplus for FY16.
Besides helping to sustain recent improvements in the BoP position, lower oil prices also have trickle down benefits on inflation, which can sustain at current levels (2.5%YoY average in CY15) across the medium term. With lower fuel costs and indirect impact on food, the sensitivity analysis indicates CY16 CPI average can hover in the range of 2.8% to 4.2%YoY.
A downwards trend in oil prices can effectively counter the low-base effect on CPI numbers, unlocking room for further monetary easing. While room could exist for a rate cut at US$45/bbl average. It is expected that the central bank may remain cautious with potential and discount rate may hover around at 5.5% at the lower extreme.
Pulled lower by falling global oil prices, Oil & Gas companies have experienced broad based selling (down 33%CYTD). E&Ps suffer from hampered profitability with POL being the most affected on account of high oil price partiality (53% of revenues in FY15). That said, the gas heavy (80%+ of overall production, 1,173mmcfd in FY14) OGDC continues to persevere in the E&P sector as its profitability is the least hurt by tumbling oil prices. Volatility in oil prices and its consequent impact on the interest rate cycle is likely to have negative implications for banking sector's profitability.
For the Big-6 banks, this is most likely to reduce CY16 earnings by 5%-18% assuming the worst case scenario. However, factors such as potential increase in the capital gains backlog and any uptick in private sector credit growth are expected to provide support to bottom-line should the interest rates come down further. In this backdrop, banks with a higher CASA ratio, greater concentration towards high margin consumer/SME segments, and higher PIB/investment ratio are expected to fare better than the rest.
While Oil & Gas and Banks are likely to bear the brunt in case of lower oil prices and continued monetary easing, brokerage house sees cost side benefits trickling down to sectors with 1) high leverage sectors like Fertilizers, Cements and Telecom 2) higher fuel and energy costs sectors like Cements, Foods ,Shipping and Aviation.
Apart from these, Power sector is likely to benefit from reduced liquidity constraints amid lower cost of generation while a lower interest rate environment should keep the sector in limelight on account of attractive dividend yields.