The benchmark VN-Index could rise to 1,049 points by the end of December, implying an 18% advance for 2019, according to the average of experts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Lawrence Brader, co-portfolio manager of the FXP Vietnam Smaller Companies Fund in Ho Chi Minh City, expected the outlook for the economy and stock market is positive through 2019, with the domestic picture particularly strong relative to regional and developmental peers. His firm, PXP Vietnam Asset Management, oversaw US$110 million in assets as of November.
Brader predicted the nation’s benchmark to surpass its 2018 high and saw a fair chance of the index doubling from here in the next three to five years. The gauge hit a record of 1,204 in April, and rising above that level would mean an advance of more than 35% for 2019.
According to Bloomberg, experts cited their optimism from Vietnam's stable economic growth, which has been expanding more than 5% a year since 2000, and the cheap valuation of the VN-Index.
The benchmark index trades at about 14 times estimated earnings for the next year, down from more than 20 times in April 2018.
Risks this year will be mostly external, with the trade war between the US and China a point of focus, analysts said. A slowing global economy and a rebound in oil prices are other perils cited for Vietnam.
Michel Tosto, head of institutional sales and brokerage at Viet Capital Securities in Ho Chi Minh City, expected activities of both local and foreign investors will be more muted. Investors will look for diversification, and investing in both stocks and bonds is not a bad idea, he added.
While the nation’s economic expansion will be slower -- it’s expected to be 6.6%, down from 7.1% in 2018 -- he said foreign direct investments will remain strong and the local currency will keep outperforming most of its peers in 2019.
Bernard Lapointe, head of research at Viet Dragon Securities in Ho Chi Minh City, forecast the VN-Index will stay in a fairly tight range between 900 to 1,000. A move below or above these levels will depend on the geopolitics and macro headwinds.
Lapointe added that the biggest issues for the VN Index are external. Domestically, EPS growth is fine. The dong has stabilized, and the central bank is doing a good job of managing inflation expectations.