Russia Stocks Drop First Day in Three as Gazprom Dims Dividends
Russian equities sank for the first time in three days as OAO Gazprom, the natural gas export monopoly, retreated after lowering its 2013 dividend forecast.
The 50-stock Micex Index (INDEXCF) lost 0.3 percent to 1,316.49 by 11:53 a.m. in Moscow, extending its slump this quarter to 8.5 percent. The Russian Volatility Index (RTSI$), which measures expected swings in RTS futures, declined 0.5 percent, falling for a third day. Gazprom slipped 0.7 percent to 109.40 rubles. OAO Bashneft’s preferred shares dropped for a fourth day, trading down 1.8 percent at 863 rubles.
Gazprom, which has the second-biggest weighting on the Micex at 14 percent, snapped two days of gains after cutting its dividend forecast for 2013 to between 6 rubles to 8 rubles a share from 8 to 9 rubles, according to a presentation. Russia required state-backed companies pay at least 25 percent of net income as dividends in November, without saying whether the payouts should use Russian or international accounting rules.
“The news on Gazprom is really bad,” Alexei Yazikov, head of research at Aton Capital LLC, said by phone from Moscow. “Dividends were the only hope for investors in state-owned companies.”
Gazprom sees 2013 net income falling as much as 10 percent on year, according to the company’s presentation.
The company’s board recommended in May a 2012 payout 33 percent less than the previous year as profit slumped. The dividend is equal to 25 percent of net income based on domestic accounting rules and 12 percent under international standards.
Bashneft’s preferred stock has tumbled 17 percent since Vedomosti reported June 25 that OAO Rosneft, Russia’s biggest crude producer, may buy the oil company from billionare Vladimir Evtushenkov’s AFK Sistema. The shares slid 2.3 percent to a record-low 858 rubles today, the second-sharpest retreat on the Micex.
Rosneft became the world’s largest publicly traded oil producer by output in March when it bought TNK-BP from BP Plc (BP/) and a group of billionaires in the country’s biggest acquisition. Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin proposed last month that the state-run company be accountable for TNK-BP’s dividends starting only from March 21, the day it acquired the venture in the $55 billion deal.
“Bashneft shows the sensitivity of investors to such comments,” Yazikov said. “People are running away from any connection with Rosneft.”
Sistema, which holds about 87 percent of Bashneft, lost 1 percent to 28.20 rubles. Evtushenkov said June 25 he was unaware of the possible purchase.
OAO Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, fell 1 percent to 1,849 rubles, the first day in three. Iraq oil output will be delayed to 2014, Interfax reported, citing CEO Vagit Alekperov. Lukoil has the biggest weighting on the Micex at 14 percent.
The dollar-denominated RTS Index, which entered a bear market June 5, was little changed at 1,261.34.
Russian stocks slumped on June 20 after U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the regulator will probably taper its bond buying later in 2013 and halt purchases around mid-2014 if the world’s largest economy performs in line with projections.
The country’s equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg. The economy of the world’s biggest energy exporter grew 1.6 percent in the first three months, the slowest pace since 2009. Bank Rossii held its refinancing rate at 8.25 percent on June 10 after inflation accelerated for a second month in May to the fastest pace in 21 months.
Out of 50 stocks, 16 increased and 34 dropped on the Micex. The volume of shares traded on the gauge was 50 percent below the 30-day average, while 10-day price swings dropped to 20.651, falling for a third day.
Two stocks on the Micex closed yesterday at a 52-week low and none at a high, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Twenty-one stocks, or 42 percent, were trading above their 50-day moving average.
The Micex trades at 5 times its 12-month estimated earnings, having lost about 11 percent this year, compared with a multiple of 9.6 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which is down 13 percent. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index of the most-traded Russian companies in the U.S. climbed 0.4 percent to 82.90 yesterday.
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