04 May 2012

Outlook: SELL in May and Go Away? (May 2012)

Lackluster global markets. The Malaysian market sputtered in April after hitting a  record close of 1606.63pts early in the month. It then trended downwards together with most global markets, as political uncertainties in Europe sapped the strength of markets worldwide in the first half of the month, while political uncertainties at home dampened the KLCI in the second half of the month. This was indeed as per our expectations.

Outlook: Sell in May and Go Away?

We investigated the historical index performance over the months of May–Sept and Oct–April for the US and for Malaysia, Jakarta and Hong Kong to try and determine if there was any truth to the old adage. Analysis indicates that over the past 52 years in the US and 22 years in Asia, markets do indeed under-perform more during the months of May–Sept as compared to Oct–April, with the KLCI surprisingly emerging as a high beta market compared to the other three markets.

What goes up must come down
With the  historical trend speaking for itself and global markets performing robustly thus far in 2012, we therefore believe there is a strong risk for markets to retrace in May. Even though Malaysia has under-performed global markets year to date, a global slump may still put a dent in the Malaysian market. As such, we advise the following strategy for the month of May:

  • Sell early in the month with Blue Chips likely being sold down if the global market slumps
  • Buy defensive stocks early in the month, especially in the Mid and Small Cap consumer  space as some stocks here have not rallied in the 1Q
  • If markets come down significantly, ie, the KLCI drops below the 1550pts, then consider accumulating stocks in the Construction, O&G and Banking space on weakness

April Top Buys did well
Considering the 1.6% drop in the KLCI for April, our top Buys did well with 4 out of our Top 5 outperforming the KLCI and also returning a positive return for the month. This was due to our strategy of selectively picking stocks with their own specific catalysts in April. The only disappointment was  MMC that continued to be dampened by rumours of a delay in the IPO for Gas Malaysia.

Start off with defensives in May
With a potential drop in the market in May, we would recommend going defensive over a 1-month time frame. Those with a longer time frame could consider picking up cyclical as the market drops, but we do not have the luxury of that for our monthly outlook. The Top 5 are, therefore, familiar defensive names including telecom companies Axiata and Telekom Malaysia, consumer-related plays AirAsia (which may benefit from lower oil prices) and Media Chinese (benefiting from increased political interest) as well as TASCO, a small logistics company with reasonable dividend yields and a strong track record.

Source: OSK Research report

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