STOCKS NEWS ASEAN-Nomura likes Thai banks in Southeast Asia

Reuters

Nomura Equity Research said it expects Thai banks to postthe highest profit growth in ASEAN, adding that an investmentand corporate/SME loan cycle was coming through from a depressedbase. The broker said it rated Thai banks 'overweight'.

It put Singapore's banks at 'underweight', saying a weakprofitability outlook offsets low valuation and Philippine banksat 'underweight' citing their rich valuation, with earningsrisks to the downside from lower investment/forex gains and arising effective tax structure.

It had 'neutral' on Malaysian and Indonesian banks.

The broker forecast earnings to rise by 13 percent for ASEANbanks in 2013, slightly lower than a 17 percent growthprojection for 2012. It forecast earnings of Thai banks to riseby 30 percent in 2013 after a 30 percent increase in 2012.

"ASEAN is back after a lost decade, post the 1997 financialcrisis .... The key, however, is investment which has beenbroadly lacking in these economies since the 1997 financialcrisis, and which is now beginning to come through," it said.

Its ASEAN top picks were Bangkok Bank Pcl,Kasikornbank Pcl, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd and PT Bank Mandiri Persero Tbk. It rated Bank of thePhilippine Islands 'reduce', saying the stock wasexpensive.

1213 (0513 GMT)

(Reporting by Viparat Jantraprap in Bangkok; Editing by JijoJacob)

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