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Nigerian Stocks Climb Most in Four Months; First Bank Rallies

Nigeria’s stocks gauge rallied the most in four months, led by Dangote Cement Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Plc, the nation’s third-biggest lender, which Renaissance Capital rated “buy” in reinitiated coverage.

The 202-member All Share Index rallied 2.1 percent, the most since Jan. 5, to 25,791.57 by 1:59 p.m. in Lagos, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, taking its increase this year to 4.1 percent compared with a 6 percent drop in the MSCI Frontier Market Index over the same period. Dangote Cement, the biggest company by market value, increased for the first day in six, rising 1.9 percent to 123.51 naira.

First Bank rallied 5 percent, the most since March 22, to 13.92 naira. Renaissance placed a “buy” recommendation on First Bank and five other Nigerian lenders, saying April elections in Africa’s most populous nation were “positive, and should shift market focus away from political risk,” analysts David Nangle, Adesoji Solanke and Armen Gasparyan wrote in an e-mailed note to clients yesterday.

The end of post-election violence in parts of the West African nation has helped stabilize the country, Esili Eigbe, a Lagos-based analyst with Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, said. “This might have convinced investors to start taking positions again,” he said by phone today.

Goodluck Jonathan, 53, a Christian from the oil-rich Niger River delta region, defeated former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim, in the April 16 vote by 57 percent to 31 percent, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission. Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party has won all the presidential elections since 1999, when the West African nation returned to civilian rule.

Nigerian stocks are also rising on the attractiveness of their valuations as they are trading at an average of about eight times historical earnings, Eigbe said. That compares with 14 times earnings on the MSCI Frontier Market Index, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “Nigeria is a clearly a good destination for equity investment,” he said.

Skye Bank Plc, a Nigerian lender that was also rated “buy” at Renaissance, gained 3.6 percent to 8.58 naira, the highest since April 28.

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