Thu, Jul 02, 2009 - Page 12 News List

UBS tells investors to trim holdings as market overpriced

By Crystal Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Investors should trim their holdings in Taiwan as local stocks have outpaced the economy and are relatively expensive compared with other Asian shares, UBS said yesterday.

The global investment bank said it was maintaining its forecast of a 4.5 percent contraction for the Taiwanese economy this year amid falling external demand and sluggish domestic consumption.

Kevin Hsiao (蕭正義), head of UBS Wealth Management Research Taiwan, said he was cautious about the short-term outlook of the local equity market but was upbeat about its long-term prospect.

“Investors should adjust their portfolio and cut down holdings in local shares that have rallied” ahead of an economic recovery, Hsiao told a media briefing.

Hsiao advised caution before the “world economy displays stronger signs of an improvement.”

The estimated price to earnings ratio for Taiwanese-listed firms has reached 40.2x — far higher than Hong Kong’s 18.2x, South Korea’s 14.7x and Singapore’s 15.5x.

Estimated price to earnings ratios for China and India — whose economies are predicted to post growth this year thanks to domestic demand — are also lower at 14.3x and 16.6x respectively, UBS data showed.

Pu Yong-hao (浦永灝), head of UBS Asian Research, said he was not surprised at the ongoing market corrections across Asia following the strong rebound in the first half of the year.

Pu advised investors to take profit and prospective entrants to stay on the sidelines.

“I recommend the strategy not because the global economy will suffer another decline but because it will not get significantly better anytime soon,” Pu said in a statement.

Both analysts expect Taiwan to benefit from warming cross-strait ties, which they said could spur a GDP growth of 2 percent next year.

While China’s stimulus package helps, true recovery hinges on a revival of demand in the US and Europe, Hsiao said.

Hsiao forecast that the local currency would trade at its current level against the greenback for the rest of the year.

Pu said slumping exports and market adjustments would also limit changes in the value of most Asian currencies.

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