Morgan Stanley Says Tech Dominance to Boost Emerging-Stock Gains

  • IT stocks now have a 23 percent weight in MSCI index
  • Change boosts influence of high-return industries, MS says

Information-technology stocks now account for a bigger chunk of the emerging-market equity benchmark than they did even at the height of the dot-com bubble. Morgan Stanley says that’s a good thing.

A 19 percent rally this year has helped a gauge of technology stocks including Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. make up 23 percent of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, higher than 21 percent in 1999. That indicates that the developing-nation measure is shedding its dependence on industries with lower profitability and shifting to ones with higher returns-on-equity, Morgan Stanley strategists wrote in a note.

“The high information-technology weight in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a structural positive that bodes well for the index’s future performance,” analysts including Jonathan F. Garner and Pankaj Mataney wrote in a report dated Tuesday.

Morgan Stanley also said:

* The technology industry now has a greater presence in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index than the MSCI World Index and similar gauges for the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific

* For the first time in at least 15 years, the combined weight of energy, commodities and industrial groups has fallen below that of technology shares

* The digital-economy industry provides a return-on-equity similar to health-care and consumer-staples companies, but has a much lower valuation

The weighting of technology stocks has gone up in recent years both because of initial public offerings by Internet companies such as Alibaba and periods of outperformance that boosted the market value of those stocks, the strategists said. The gauge is now less dependent on energy, commodity and industrial groups, according to the report.

The IT industry has a return-on-equity of 14 percent, double of what the energy, materials and industrial groups offer, the strategists said. Yet, the so-called new-economy stocks trade at 2.4 times their book value, compared with an average multiple of 4.1 for pricey industries such as health care and consumer staples.

The increased role of IT stocks in driving emerging-market gains is evident in Bloomberg’s Relative Rotation Graph, which shows the industry group providing the maximum momentum to the MSCI index’s rally, while also outperforming the gauge by the most among peers.

Morgan Stanley predicts that the potential for further gains may help the IT industry overtake financial companies, now the most heavily weighted group in the MSCI Index.

“One key implication of this is that the MSCI EM index, like the S&P 500, may over time become less geared to the sum of the economic-growth outlooks in the individual country constituents,” the strategists said.