ANALYST REPORT April 27, 2016

Revenge of the SIFs

We initiate our coverage on SIFs, with an Overweight rating on SIF1 and SIF2, while we issue an Equal weight rating on SIF3, SIF4 and SIF5 as we do not see material upside in those funds currently.
We generally hold a positive view on local banks as well as on Erste, claiming their earnings prospect should remain benign on our expectation. BT already paid an exceptional dividend this year which we do not see the bank to repeat. However, cash returns from financials should be robust as CEE macro remains resilient. This is a crucial point in the investment story as stakes in banks remain significant and reliance on their disposed income is also important.
SIFs are trading at large discount to their NAV (-47.6% on average), due to couple of reasons: (1) lack of liquidity (2) 5% threshold (discussed in next paragraph) (3) initial corporate governance issues (4) unlisted assets in their portfolios.
Shareholding cap puts a strain on market prices so far. The current regulation limits shareholders to own not more than 5% of each fund’s shares. This was already an improvement as the initial cap was 1%. Investors are expecting a trigger in threshold once the SIFs will be registered as alternative funds but the road is still unclear whether this would imply the lift of the cap. Lifting or full elimination of the cap could bring liquidity to the market as well as better corporate governance due to more active shareholders.
SIFs usually use various alternatives to distribute income to investors including stock and cash dividends and share buybacks. Adding up all the income distributions, SIF3 and SIF4 had exceptional yields of 9.7% and 17.5%, respectively, while other funds also had rather high return to shareholders.
We believe that the SIFs should benefit from the uptick in Romanian macroeconomic environment via their investments e.g. in banks or real estate. In addition, the lift of 5% threshold could also be a trigger in share prices, in which case we see an upswing for all SIFs in general.