As Russian stocks stood out as emerging markets laggards in recent years, including the early part of 2014, a familiar refrain was heard from the dwindling number of Russian equity bulls. That being Russian stocks are inexpensive.
Last month, Russia’s benchmark Micex was trading at 4.8 times earnings, barely more than a third the valuations on Indian stocks and just over half the P/E on Brazil’s benchmark Ibovespa. Russia typically trades at a discount to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, but stocks there have been deeply discounted relative to their historical valuations for close to a year. [Insiders See Value in Russian Stocks]
Despite intense geopolitical risk following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian equities surged in the latter half of March. Since March 13, the Market Vectors Russia ETF (NYSEArca: RSX), the largest and oldest Russia ETF, is up nearly 13%. And despite that run, it is accurate to say Russian stocks are still inexpensive. One fund manager thinks some noteworthy Russian names could double or triple in the coming years.
In an interview with Barron’s, Dave Iben, said it is possible shares of OAO Gazprom could triple in three years. The company “expects to pay six to eight rubles per share in dividends this year, implying a yield of 4.5% to 6%,” according to Barron’s.
Russia is the second-largest emerging markets dividend payer behind China.
“A potential switch to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) from Russian Accounting Standards could critically impact Gazprom’s dividend levels. A switch to IFRS could mean almost doubling Gazprom’s dividends if and when it happens,” according to research by WisdomTree.