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Housing Finance Hits 16-Month High on Buy Rating: Nairobi Mover

Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Housing Finance Ltd., Kenya’s only publicly traded mortgage lender, climbed to the highest level in almost 16 months as AIB Capital Ltd. started coverage on the stock with a buy recommendation.

The shares advanced 2.1 percent to 17.20 shillings by the 3:00 p.m. close in Nairobi, the highest price since Sept. 20, 2011. About 160,300 shares, or 138 percent of the three-month daily average volume, changed hands, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Lower interest rates in Kenya will help Housing Finance increase lending and boost income, according to AIB. The Central Bank of Kenya’s Monetary Policy Committee, led by central bank Governor Njuguna Ndung’u, reduced the rate for the fourth time since July last week, cutting it to 9.5 percent from 11 percent.

“We have been seeing that investors are taking early positions in financial companies ahead of announcement of earnings,” Ted Macharia, a research analyst at Nairobi-based AIB Capital, said by phone today. AIB has a price target of 21 shillings a share.

Housing Finance’s net income in the nine months to Sept. 30 slipped to 396 million shillings ($4.57 million) from 407 million shillings a year earlier, it said Oct. 29. The company reported a 26 percent increase in non-performing loans, which it attributed to higher interest rates, saying the situation was improving as rates were reduced.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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