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Equity Bank Heads for Biggest Jump in Three Years: Nairobi Mover

Equity Bank Ltd., Kenya’s biggest lender by customers, headed for its biggest jump in more than three years on attractive valuation relative to peers.

The stock advanced 6.2 percent to 21.5 shillings by 3:04 p.m. in Nairobi, the most since May 2009 on a closing basis. Volume of shares traded was almost six times the stock’s three-month average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“It is actually a foreign investor who has bought the bulk of the shares,” George Bodo, a Nairobi-based independent equity strategist, said in a phone interview today. “The current valuations are very attractive.”

Equity Bank trades at 7.4 times reported earnings, compared with 8.7 for Barclays Bank of Kenya Ltd. and 8.9 for Standard Chartered Bank of Kenya Ltd., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“We have been seeing international pension funds and big global funds which continue to feel they are under allocated to sub-Saharan Africa increasing their allocation,” Aly-Khan Satchu, chief executive officer of Nairobi-based Rich Management Ltd., said in a phone interview today.

Banking stocks were oversold last year and began 2012 from a low base, Satchu said.

Equity Bank tumbled 39 percent last year, which is higher than the 30 percent drop in the NSE All Share Index. It has surged 28 percent this year, outperforming the benchmark gauge, which jumped 19 percent.

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