Investors position themselves for longer term gains in stocks

Memory of the rebound in Russian stocks in the late 1990s is helping some investors position themselves for what they see as a likely rise later this year, despite the recent gains being seen as a bear market rally.

2009 has become a new beginning for the Russian stock markets. After several years of increasing interest by global investors, the market collapse of late 2008 currently sees it almost devoid of foreign investors and based almost solely on Russian funds. But longer term players have seen this before – after the collapse of 1998. And like then, when it grew 3 fold in a year after the crisis, interest in rebounding quickly, according to Andrey Sapunov Chief Investment Consultant, at Finam.

“Our individual client base grew 50% last year and in only January of this year it increased by 25%. The volumes of trade during the crisis were under 22 billion roubles, now it’s 60 billion roubles due to individual and institutional investors.”

Russia’s Micex has grown by nearly half from its January low, led by Polyus gold, with energy companies increasingly returning to favour. Private investors like Alexander who have seen it before are getting in early – despite the risk.

“Now there is a chance to earn money – I saw it 10 years ago. In 4 years some of my friends made over 1000%. That time I was late to enter the market. But I would not lose my chance. But risk still exists so I use only my savings and don't sell anything to get the liquidity for investments.”

Enthusiasm isn’t diminished by sentiment that the recent stockmarket gains have only been a bear market rally. Despite commentators such as George Soros predicting that equities are still likely to head lower, an increasing number of Russian investors are viewing the prospect as a buying opportunity.