BofA Unites Russia, Turkey in List of Top Consumer Stock Picks

  • Bank favors Ulker, Coca-Cola in Istanbul, Russia's Magnit, X5
  • Consumer confidence in both countries to recover in 2016: BofA

As political relations between Turkey and Russia deteriorate, consumers in the two countries have something in common for Bank of America Corp.: they’ll be spending more money in 2016.

Researchers at the U.S. investment bank, including Andy Smith and Hootan Yazhari, on Wednesday touted consumer stocks in the two nations as their top picks in eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Turkish confectioner Ulker Biskuvi Sanayi AS and soft drink-maker Coca-Cola Icecek AS made the cut, along with X5 Retail Group NV, Russia’s second-largest retailer, and competitor Magnit PJSC, BofA said.

The analysts pointed to a measure of company valuations that takes into account growth rates to show that Turkish and Russian companies "are much more attractive" than peers in Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Equities in Istanbul and Moscow have been among the six worst-performers in dollar terms worldwide since Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Nov. 24, triggering retaliatory sanctions from the government of President Vladimir Putin.

After Russians’ purchasing power worsened due to a shrinking economy and penalties related to the Ukraine conflict, "consumer confidence has recovered faster than in 2009" when the country was last in recession, BofA said. In Turkey, a proposed 30 percent increase in the minimum wage may help trigger "a rebound in Turkish consumer confidence" now at a five-year low, it said.

The price-to-earnings ratio of consumer shares relative to growth rates, or PEG, was 0.4 in Russia and 0.8 in Turkey, versus multiples of 1.1 in Saudi Arabia and 1.4 in South Africa, according to BofA.

The bank raised its price objective for X5, which has fallen about 3 percent since the military incident, to $28 -- a 33 percent upside from the price at 2:40 p.m. in London. The target for Ulker was set at 25 liras, also a third higher than current levels, while for Coca-Cola Icecek it was 57 liras, 46 percent more than the price now. Magnit’s global depositary receipts, at $40.13 on Wednesday, have the potential to climb to $57.5, it said.

BofA raised its recommendation for Russian stocks to overweight last week, while maintaining an underweight stance on Turkish shares.

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