Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) grew by 79%, global equities lost a fifth of their value in 2022

Leonard Sengere Avatar
ZSE

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has had its ups and downs and 2022 was a toughie. Zimbabwe continues to be a challenging environment to operate in for the companies listed on the exchange. However, in the past, that has not necessarily meant that the ZSE struggles.

The ZSE had a good 2021, growing by 314%, meaning that although that year closed out with a 60.7% YoY inflation rate, investing on the ZSE was better than stuffing USDs in a pillow. You don’t need reminding that 2021 was a difficult year and yet the ZSE did okay.

The year 2022 was not as good.

The All-Share Index grew by 79.38% in 2022. Remember the All Share Index shows changes in the average value of all the shares on the ZSE. In a normal economy, the 79.38% growth would have been great. Globally, equities lost a fifth of their value in 2022, which was the worst performance since the financial crisis of 2008. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange was down 0.9% in the year.

This shows just how impressive the ZSE’s 79.38% growth was. However, in Zim, we closed out December with an inflation rate of 243.8%.

We are saying prices generally rose by 243.8% from December 2021 to December 2022. Yet, if you put your hard-earned money into shares on the ZSE, your investment grew by 79.38%. That means inflation wiped out whatever gains you made and put you in the hole.

I should mention though that the All Share is an average, This means some companies’ shares performed better than others. For example, Econet shares saw a measly 14.99% price increase, whilst First Capital saw a 355.74% price increase in the same period.

Liquidity and undervalued stocks

One of the main reasons the ZSE struggled in 2022 was the interest rate hike that came halfway through the year. The high interest rate had the effect of wiping excess cash off the market, i.e. tightening liquidity as the RBZ Governor would say. That meant less money to invest in shares on the ZSE.

Therefore, there is a case to be made that shares on the ZSE are undervalued. The share prices we see today do not reflect real market sentiment.

The market did not have the liquid cash to buy shares as they really wanted to. This means the liquidity challenge artificially curtailed demand. Basic economics teaches us that that means the price we see is lower than it otherwise would have been.

In English, it means even if investors saw a company make moves that they thought bolstered its future prospects, they couldn’t really invest in that company like they wanted to.

We are no financial advisors here but common sense says you buy when things are undervalued. It could be the perfect time to get in on the ZSE action. However, this being Zimbabwe and the global economy still limping, it could be the worst time to invest. Do your own research if you want to try it all out.

ZSE developments

It may have been a tough year but at least we got new assets to invest in. Rather than primarily focusing on the shares of listed companies, investors got a few more options.

The big one is Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs). These allow collective investment in real estate. Funds are pooled together and invested in property and any gains are split according to how much each investor contributed.

Zimbabweans love their real estate and it is actually a bit of a surprise that it took this long for REITs to hit the ZSE. I believe if these are properly marketed, Zimbos would rush to invest.

In the year we also saw about 4 more ETFs listed. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are pooled investment vehicles like the REITs we talked about above. However, the pooled funds here are not limited to real estate investment. They can focus on certain sectors, commodities, indices or other assets.

Both REITs and ETFs sound like what we understand as mutual funds. You know, the kind that the likes of Old Mutual are known for. They are similar except that REITs and ETFs can be traded on the ZSE just like shares, mutual funds cannot be traded on the stock exchange.

Moving on from these pooled funds, we also saw gold coins introduced. They were prescribed asset status and you may not like them but they offer a new kind of asset. The ZSE is richer because they exist.

VFEX

The Victoria Falls Exchange (VFEX) had its best year yet. It’s now up to 6 counters and it looks like we will see a few more companies move there from the ZSE.

You will remember that the VFEX is a USD-only exchange and so for companies looking to raise capital in forex, it makes sense to list there. There is also the stability that comes from the stronger USD that is attracting companies to the new exchange. Will the VFEX plunder the ZSE then?

It is then a bit shocking to see that only 6 companies have made the move and some of those have not even delisted from the ZSE. Experts expect more to move to the VFEX but even in that case, they expect there to be a reversal in the future. What gives?

When you raise capital in USD on the VFEX you better be earning enough USD to appease those USD investors of yours. As we know, these companies cannot refuse to accept the ZW$ and so most companies’ earnings are in ZW$. They are actually looking to the forex auction to get some USD.

This is why there hasn’t been a rush to delist from the ZSE and list on the VFEX.

It’s all exciting stuff. Do let us know what you think about all this in the comments section below.

Also read:

Play C-Trade Fantasy, you could win over US$1000 as you learn how to trade stocks (ZSE)

The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) grew by 314.37% in 2021, whilst inflation rate was 60.7%

I’m sorry, but published accounts for ZSE companies are almost useless for many

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9 comments

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  1. Fre

    Good article but 79% gain Vs 240% inflation means the mattress bank was a better option.money didn’t grow but the losses were less.secondly I disagree with under valued they are actually overvalued because of the multiple rate system and the accounting they using. We have hyperinflation power cuts and rising labour dissent plus political interference driving the cost of business.the VFX and real estate is good but I think we should have gold and precious metals one as well. For those who can’t read between the lines and are more smaller investors stay away and look for other options you will certainly be disappointed.also take note of exorbitant charges on that 79%.thats not the bottom line

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Agree that the mattress bank was better in 2022. It’s in 2021 that the mattress bank was beat. On the overvalued/undervalued bit, I get your point. If investors are buying stocks just to avoid holding cash reserves in ZW$, then they are not really looking at the fundamentals of the companies they are investing in. All the challenges you mentioned may mean some companies are at a serious risk of going belly up, especially considering just how hard it is to raise capital in environments like ours. So, some are overvalued, for sure.

  2. Imi Vanhu Musadaro

    The success of VFX is an illusion in my opinion. As more counters get in board, the regulations will become more stringent and when the next scapegoat is needed, guess what it’ll be, “errant trading on the VFX, much needed foreign currency, reversing the gains of our policies, economic saboteurs” and the other usual blame words.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      I think we can jot this down as a prophecy. It is inevitable that the VFEX will be targeted. We can’t ignore just how close we are to elections as well and how politicians want to seem open minded. Once that’s done, the VFEX will be seen to be working against the country’s goals by affording economic saboteurs an outlet to externalise our scarce foreign currency.

  3. Fre

    I have to say the article and discussion are good but for zwl
    If you have already converted and have USD .you still stuck because the real estate entry is too high.it also explains zimbo appetite for property and why realestate prices are so high
    It’s bubble created by high demand.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      REITs fix the ‘real estate entry point is too high’ problem. You don’t have to foot the whole bill to invest in a property, rather you join others and pool your money to invest in a property. Like 100 people each contributing $1000 to buy a $100,000 house kind of deal.

      1. Fre

        At the end of the day after management and other fees you’ll see the return plummet. The only winner is the managers.youll get slightly above the the USD inflation rate as opposed to outright buying it where you can make between 60 to 100% more. Just bear this in mind.

        1. Fre

          Ontop of that they driving the prices up because they have capital that is essentially not theirs
          It’s catch 22 situation.the better option would be if they were given land and build that up. This way soon off effects to other industries and expand the cities

  4. Kuda

    Nominal growth of 79% but in real terms it’s actually a loss of value given the inflation rate.