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How will a ratings upgrade for the Philippines affect you?

Ratings Upgrade

Ratings Upgrade. The Philippines is expected to receive a credit ratings upgrade from the big three ratings agencies. But how will it affect you?

Talk is rife about an impending credit ratings upgrade for the Philippines. The next round of upgrade will be the most significant one because it will bring Philippine debt to investment grade status, which basically means that ratings agencies think that credit risks are significantly reduced compared to before, when Philippine debt is considered “speculative” or below investment grade.

But how will this affect our personal finances? And what are ratings anyways?

First to answer the basic question of what ratings are. Credit ratings are opinions that are given by independent ratings agencies on the likelihood of a corporate or a government entity to default on its debt. There are three large global independent ratings agencies, and these are Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch’s. These ratings firms started more than a century ago, to provide an independent risk analysis on large government and corporate projects that are looking for investments. Founders of ratings firm S&P saw that information is not freely and widely available to those who wish to invest in government and corporate capital expenditure projects. The solution that they come up with was to establish a credit rating firm that is independent of investors and corporations/governments to provide unbiased opinion on whether lending to an entity is risky or not.

Ratings on governments are referred to as sovereign ratings and each ratings agency has its own methodology of coming up with an opinion. There are many factors considered beyond economic numbers as risk is not always monetary in nature. This opinion is not a recommendation to invest or not but is rather an assessment of perceived risk relating to lending to a specific government. The ratings are often summarised into a letter grade ranging from AAA to D, AAA being the highest investment grade. The Philippines is currently one notch below investment grade and is expected to leave “speculative” status this year.

What does this mean for average Juan? The simplest answer is that it may mean easier, cheaper credit. I say may because the effect will not be felt directly by everyone, at least in the short-term. The ratings will affect directly the investors – those who invest in Philippine government bonds, and the borrower, i.e. the government of the Philippines. It is expected that a credit upgrade from speculative to investment-grade will mean that it will be a lot easier for the government to borrow money. Not that this is not already happening. An “investment-grade” status helps convince more institutional investors to purchase government bonds. As it is, bond issuances of the government has always been oversubscribed, which means that there is higher demand than what the government intended to borrow. At the same time, it will make borrowing cheaper by way of lower interest rates. Interest rates take into account the risks associated with an investment. Since the upgrade basically means that risks are reduced, then the government can reduce the interest rates of its debt, making borrowing a lot cheaper. Also, with the expected increase in the demand, the government will be in the position to lower interest rates even more.

If you’re planning to invest in government securities such as bonds, this means that returns from interest will be lower, but your investment will be much more liquid as there will be a bigger market for it. This is a good thing, as you don’t want to get stuck with a certificate that no one would buy. In the long term, it is expected that business loans and personal loans will be a lot more cheaper, as there will be an increase in funding liquidity. Although all of this will be dependent on the monetary policy that will be adopted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). In short we’ll have to wait and see.

In summary, a credit ratings upgrade will be good in general, and will benefit everyone in the long-term, as long as it is coupled with sound monetary policy as implemented by our financial regulators.

For more information on credit ratings, visit http://www.understandingratings.com

BSP Governor urges PSE to widen reach

In this Inquirer article, BSP governor Amando Tetangco, Jr. urges the PSE to install the necessary technological infrastructure that will allow Filipinos outside of Metro Manila to participate in the capital markets: http://business.inquirer.net/56647/bourse-urged-to-go-nationwide

I agree with Governor Tetangco wholeheartedly. I think this move will be beneficial, not only for the investing public but also to companies seeking capital for their entrepreneurial venture. I have read in some analysis that Philippine stocks are deemed “expensive” relative to other stocks in the Asian region. I take this to mean that the investing public has an appetite for equities and this should encourage more companies to go public. Imagine how much more capital will be available if the PSE will be able to successfully rollout a mechanism that will allow Filipinos outside Metro Manila to directly participate in the local bourse. The article cites a survey that says that less than one percent of Metro Manileños invest in the capital markets while the number for people surveyed outside Metro Manila is almost zero.

Aside from this increased participation from the investing public, such technological infrastructure will also bring public equity closer to companies in the provinces, making them more productive. I would even go as far as suggesting that a second independent stock exchange be opened in Cebu to cater to the equity financing needs of Visayas-Mindanao businesses. Of course, this goes against the grain of the trend of consolidation among exchanges all over the world. PSE needs to do a better job at promoting investment into equities and using the equity market to raise capital.

The last item on my wish list would probably be an alternative exchange for emerging companies/small caps. This will be a great way to support our small- and medium-sized enterprises/small- and medium-sized industries who might find it hard to comply with the requirements of the PSE’s main board but are in need of capital that bank loans will not be able to provide. Once we bridge that crucial funding gap, I am optimistic that we will see a lot of our industries succeed.

INQUIRER.net: PSE readies online trading platform

More good news for local retail stock investors.

PSE readies online trading platform

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Stock Exchange plans to roll out an online trading platform for participants in the second semester, in a bid to widen investor base without the broker-dealers having to shell out a lot of money to develop their own solutions.

In a briefing on Friday, PSE president Hans Sicat said the PSE was now in the process of soliciting proposals from local and international solution providers to set up the platform. There are about 15 providers invited to submit proposals to the exchange, he said.

To date, most trades in the country are still done via phone calls or physical interaction with stockbrokers or agents. The program, called Online Service Bureau, seeks to take advantage of the Internet and the continuous growth of online transactions by allowing investors to place their orders to their brokers online.

Sicat said the OSB would effectively serve as facilitator/aggregator for a technology provider. “The idea is for them to provide the broker-dealer and their own subscribers an online platform that they can get from theirs PC, iPad or their phones.”

The rollout will take place about six months from the time a contract is awarded, Sicat said. The launch, he said, would likely be held by the third or fourth quarter of the year.

The PSE chief said it would be up to the trading participants whether or not they would subscribe to this service.

To date, 10 to 15 trading participants out of the 133 active brokerage houses have developed their proprietary online trading platform. These include CitisecOnline.com and First Metro Securities.—Doris C. Dumlao

Inquirer: P25B raised from retail treasury bonds

Retail treasury bonds or RTB’s are included in another class of investment securities you can put your money in. The article below fairly gives an detailed explanation of what retail treasury bonds are. If you want to invest in these treasury bonds, contact the Trust department of the banks acting as issue managers as mentioned below. I will soon write an article about bonds and other debt securities.

P25B raised from retail treasury bonds
By Ronnel Domingo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 18:09:00 08/10/2010

MANILA, Philippines—The Bureau of Treasury raised on Tuesday P25 billion from retail treasury bonds in a price setting auction for five-year, seven-year and 10-year issues.

The five-year bond fetched 5.875 percent, the seven-year 6.625 percent, and the 10-year 7.25 percent.

Issue managers said they would recommend offering another P50 billion worth of the RTBs to the public, to be available under August 17.

Gov’t sets yields of retail T-bonds
By Ronnel Domingo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:17:00 08/10/2010

THE BUREAU of the Treasury on Tuesday raised P25 billion in retail treasury bonds (RTBs) through a price-setting auction for the debt paper maturing in five, seven and 10 years. Read More…

Inquirer: RP stocks defy cautious mood overseas, posts new 31-month high

This is one reason why I think none of us should be leaving this country for supposed greener pastures. Third World is the new First World, baby.

RP stocks defy cautious mood overseas, posts new 31-month high
By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Local stocks eked out a slim gain to hit a new 31-month high on Monday as follow-through buying defied a cautious overseas sentiment.

The main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index added 8.44 points or 0.24 percent to finish at 3,524.70.

This was so far the best level hit by the index since closing at 3,617.29 on January 2, 2008. The local equities market was supported by a firm trading on most counters except for the property sub-index, which succumbed to profit-taking. Read More…

Inquirer: RP stocks keep gains amid news of stable political outlook

MANILA, Philippines — Local stocks firmed up for a second straight day on Tuesday as financial markets welcomed the possibility that an ally of newly installed President Aquino will clinch the House speakership. Read More…

Inquirer: Buyers scramble to buy 20-year treasury bonds; P8.5 billion raised

MANILA, Philippines — The government raised on Tuesday P8.5 billion from the sale of 20-year treasury bonds and has opened a tap facility to double the amount as buyers scrambled for long-term debt paper. Read More…

Inquirer: Inflation slowed down to 3.9% in June

MANILA, Philippines — The increase in consumer prices slowed to a six-month low of 3.9 percent year-on-year in June as most commodity groups showed abating price hikes, according to the National Statistics Office.

Read More…

Inquirer: SE Asia banks unfazed by debt turmoil in Europe

I’m not sure how current or updated you are with what’s happening in the global markets but just to allay any fear and prevent and panic, here’s a ratings agency’s statement on the stability of the Philippine – and Southeast Asian – banking sector. Read More…

BusinessWorld: Megaworld sees faster profit growth; eyes REIT

This article talks about a new investment vehicle for retail investors called REIT or real estate investment trusts. TRIVIA: This law was authored/sponsored by Sen. Manny Villar. I’ll talk more about REIT and how they work in the future. Meanwhile, enjoy the article.

Megaworld sees faster profit growth; eyes REIT

Posted on 07:20 PM, June 18, 2010

BY NEIL JEROME C. MORALES, Reporter

Property giant Megaworld Corp. expects faster profit growth this year amid an uptick in demand, an executive said on Friday.

The Andrew L. Tan-led property developer has allotted a higher capital spending to spur growth this year, and is looking at putting up real estate investment trusts (REIT) next year. Read More…