On a semi-regular basis, we will be publishing short interviews profiling some of AGRC’s members and their areas of expertise and overall interest. If you’re interested in participating in this interview series as an AGRC member, please get in touch at email@example.com.
Here’s the first of many to come, starring Bekhruzbek Ochilov, founding partner of Alkes Research LLC in Uzbekistan.
What can we expect for debt capital markets in 2021?
Bekhruzbek Ochilov (BO): Markets around the world gained a lot in Q4 2020, which led to US yields rising, while corporate bonds touched the ground.
Lately, the central banks of major economies have kept key interest rates unchanged. This situation could last for half a year or even more, depending on when the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control. After that happens, key interest rates will be rise and the prices of old bonds will drop. Improving fundamentals would make yield spreads narrow during the remainder of the year.
Moreover, a wave of bankruptcies among companies is not expected this year unless the economic climate becomes worse.
Any current trend in equity capital markets that have caught your attention recently?
BO: Recently, the world’s capital markets community has seen several pumps on shares. The first one to soar was $GME, which was followed by $SPCE, $ZYNE, $AMC, silver futures and Dogecoin. These brisk movements were said to be short squeezes. Nevertheless, beneficiaries of silver’s pump, for instance, were Wall Street investment houses.
Financial markets have been recovering since the recession in March. The worst dynamics of recovery has been shown by the financial, energy and airline sectors.
How has COVID-19 affected company valuations?
BO: In the first place, the coronavirus crisis influenced the market capitalisation of companies, which had an impact on P/E ratios. However, as economies experienced V-rebound, the vast majority of shares were back to pre-crisis prices and soared higher, which resulted in P/E for S&P 500 reaching astronomical rates, accounting for almost 34 now.
What are some of the main things to consider for the development of capital markets in emerging economies?
BO: Once investing in EMs, you are exposed to higher risks—for instance, social, political, corruption ones—than if you allocate money in developed economies. Usually, plenty of these prospects of loss could be tracked through indexes: world competitiveness index, corruption perception index and some others.
Despite offering numerous risks, EMs are replete with undervalued securities. Furthermore, adding assets of a couple of countries from this category would reduce your portfolio’s volatility. There is a low correlation with world markets; however, it has been increasing during the past two decades. Capital markets are also distinguished by fair risk premiums, a prime example could be high medium dividend yield on the Russian market.
According to the IMF, emerging economies recently accounted for 80% of global economic growth, which means that capital markets in these economies grow faster than in developed countries.
How will Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) Issues develop in 2021 in the capital markets?
BO: COVID-19 brought ESG into greater focus during 2020.
The Biden administration is aiming to reinvigorate ESG policies, especially concerning environmental issues. The USA is planning to go back to the Paris agreement and recently the US Federal Reserve has joined the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS). However, there is vulnerability for the assets of S&P companies due to the high risk and impact of physical climate change, which could cause elevated concern nowadays on the grounds that the US experienced 22 natural disasters last year.
Recently, a lot of companies pledged to halt carbon dioxide emission and to become carbon neutral in several decades, which is bound to affect positively on the process of solving environmental concerns.
Regarding social issues, NASDAQ has a new proposed requirement of 2500+ companies to have at least one woman director and another who would define themselves as black/Hispanic/LGBTQ. Moreover, racial diversity is now demanded on boards of publicly traded companies in California (2020) and Illinois (2019).
Dual-class voting structures. Yay or nay? Why?
BO: Dual-class shares have several advantages and drawbacks for a company’s management, as well as for individual investors.
This type of structure is helpful for leaders when they concentrate more on long-term projects rather than on short-term financial results. Nonetheless, this politics is currently not welcomed by some stock indexes, such as Russell-2000 and S&P 500, which make dual-class shares ineligible to be included.
From the private investor’s point of view, even if they are predisposed to invest large sums of money in a company, they will barely get the same voting power as insiders have.
In a nutshell, division of shares into several classes could lead a management board to concentrate considerable amount of power, so that interests of investors from exchanges could not be taken into account. However, conducting more investor meetings could solve this issue.
Bekhruzbek Ochilov, AGRCP, ACSI, is a capital markets professional. He has experience in building analytics and BI solutions for stock exchanges, stock market indices, valuing companies for ECM and DCM transactions, and underwriting securities. He is an International Governance and Compliance Professional (AGRCP) since 2021 and an associate member (ACSI) of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment since 2020. In 2021, he was named the best young analyst of the Uzbek capital market by the Society of Investment and Financial Analysts (SIFA) under the Capital Markets Development Agency (CMDA), the Uzbek capital market regulator.
Bekhruzbek Ochilov is a founding partner of Alkes Research LLC, a financial services consulting and research company, and owner of EQRE, an equity research house that partners with eight leading brokerage houses to provide analytics of the Uzbekistan financial services market. He is also owner of EqRe Blue Index, the benchmark index of the Uzbek capital market.