Retail traders shift focus to NSE small caps

An employee of the Nairobi Securities Exchange on the trading floor. FILE PHOTO | NMG Small cap stocks listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) dominated the group of firms leading in price gain in January, data compiled by Standard Investment Bank shows.

The big increase in prices for small companies occurred despite little or no participation from foreign investors whose flows were in positive territory during the initial month of the year as compared to the previous two years.

The small caps including Olympia Capital #ticker:OCH, Eaagads #ticker:EGAD and Sasini #ticker:SASN gained 11.4, 8.9 and 8.9 per cent, respectively. Shares prices of NBV #ticker:NBV and Carbacid #ticker:CARB also rose 8.6 and 8.5 per cent, respectively. Even financially troubled Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ was among the top gainers with 22 per cent increase in price in January, SIB data showed.

The price of the share at Sh2.50 remains at a small fraction of its peak price of about Sh140 in the 2000s, although it has recently been diluted by issuance of additional share to creditors.

“The market has been up for small caps with the retail investors having a lot of interest in them,” said Linda Kiraithe, research analyst with Nairobi-based ApexAfrica Capital.

She said that focus had shifted to the small caps as they were the remaining frontier for retail investors to make some money.

Foreign investors however showed no interest in the small caps with their participation hovering slightly above zero per cent.

Shares of commercial banks and Safaricom were attracting less interest, she said, because they had already benefited from the initial boost to the stock market arising from the removal of the restrictions on lending rates.

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