Dubai Property Giant's Fabulous February Triggers Sentiment Test

(Bloomberg) -- A rally in Emaar Properties PJSC, Dubai’s biggest listed real-estate developer, has pushed the stock beyond a key level for the first time since 2017, testing sentiment among investors still wary about the health of the sector.

The shares have climbed 14 percent in February, headed for the best month in three years. The gains have taken the stock beyond its 200-day moving average, a level it held for some five months the last time this happened.

Dubai Property Giant's Fabulous February Triggers Sentiment Test

Emaar Properties is seen as a bellwether for Dubai’s real-estate market. The recent recovery comes after a 40 percent drop last year, the worst loss in a decade, as the stock was dragged lower by worries about an increase in supply at a time of falling demand in the emirate.

Emaar Properties’ rally has helped Dubai’s benchmark stocks gauge to bounce back from being the world’s worst performer in 2018. While some analysts and investors see further gains in store for the developer, thanks to attractively low valuations, others point to persistently weak fundamentals.

The stock rose 0.2 percent on Wednesday. Here is what some analysts and investors are saying:

Ali Adou, the head of asset management at Daman Investments in Dubai.

  • “We see a lot of value in Emaar over the long term. From a valuation perspective, the stock has been trading at a deep and unjustified discount to its fair value and emerging-markets peers”
  • Results came in “better than expected and was the main catalyst behind the change in sentiment towards the name”
  • “Emaar is one of the major blue chips in the United Arab Emirates and it is expected to attract investors’ attention as the improvement of sentiment continues”

Yugesh Suneja, an analyst with ADCB Securities LLC in Abu Dhabi.

  • There is still room for upside in the short term
  • “Foreigners are becoming more positive on the stock” and also on some other development and mall stocks from the U.A.E.
  • The easing trade war between the U.S. and China, and a stronger dollar “most likely” coming to an end, are also supportive for Emaar Properties going forward

Ahmed Badr, head of equities for the Middle East, North Africa at Credit Suisse in Dubai.

  • The rally “is going to be short-lived”
  • “The question is whether the risk is more on the upside or the downside, and given where it is now, and the fundamentals of the market at the end of the day, I actually think it is more on the downside”
  • The flows into the companies specifically “were driven by hedge fund money”

Ayub Ansari, senior analyst at Securities & Investment Co. in Bahrain.

  • “I think the next check point will be the board meeting, where they will decide the dividend”
  • “The real surprise was Emaar Development, with triple-digit growth in profitability,” which is feeding into Emaar Properties’ earnings
  • “Two or three years from now, we might see some sort of a revival in Dubai’s real-estate sector,” and with Emaar being the top developer, it is well placed to benefit from such a revival

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