Saudi Shares Most Expensive Since 2015 as Foreigners Keep Buying

(Bloomberg) -- Saudi Arabian stocks are trading at the most expensive level since 2015 relative to emerging markets as foreign investors continue buying into a potential status upgrade by MSCI Inc. as oil surges.

The Tadawul All Share Index is trading at 15 times estimated earnings per share for the coming year, versus 12 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. The spread between the measures is the widest since August 2015.

As of April 19, foreign investors were net buyers of Saudi stocks for the 16th straight week. They were net purchasers of 1.4 billion riyals ($370 million), more than any other week since at least October 2015, when Bloomberg started compiling the data.

Saudi Shares Most Expensive Since 2015 as Foreigners Keep Buying

The Saudi main stock index has gained about 15 percent this year. Investors are betting that MSCI will upgrade the kingdom to emerging market status in June, with implementation starting next year, after a similar decision by FTSE Russell last month.

Anticipation of the upgrade is rising as Brent crude trades at the highest level since 2014, which is beneficial for corporate earnings in the country that’s the biggest exporter of the commodity globally. An initial public offering of oil giant Saudi Aramco in Riyadh could further boost interest in the local stock exchange.

Saudi Shares Most Expensive Since 2015 as Foreigners Keep Buying

Here are some other facts on Saudi Arabia’s stock market:

  • The country is delaying the IPO of the local bourse, known as Tadawul, on hopes that a potential MSCI upgrade in June could boost its value.
  • A positive decision by MSCI could attract inflows in the order of $50 billion, according to estimates by Franklin Templeton Investments, which is bullish on Saudi shares.
  • The 14-day RSI for the Saudi main gauge finished above 70 for the fifth straight session on Tuesday. The threshold is seen by some as a sign shares may have risen too far, too fast.
  • Rabigh Refining and Petrochemical is the best-performing stock within the Tadawul index this year, rising 89 percent. Etihad Atheeb is the biggest decliner, falling 39 percent.

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