MANILA – Online stockbroker COL Financial Group expects the Philippine Stock Exchange index (PSEi) to end the year at 8,100, slightly lower than previously projected, supported by optimism for faster economic recovery and earnings growth.

COL chief equity strategist April Lynn Tan said their forecast for PSEi has been reduced from 8,300 considering the lower earnings incurred by property companies as their mall operations are affected most by the implementation of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

The National Capital Region (NCR) will be placed under the most restrictive ECQ from Aug. 6 to 20 to prevent the spread of the more infectious Delta coronavirus variant.

This, after the one implemented from May 17 to April 13, 2021 to stem the country’s coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) surge.

“We cut our earnings forecast and fair value estimates for the property companies given that they are part of a lot of the big holding companies that also dragged our fair value estimates. (But) an 8,100 target is still significantly higher from where we are today. That is why, we keep on saying that the negatives are priced in,” Tan said in a virtual press briefing Monday.

She said companies are “coping well” with the pandemic, adding that almost all sectors, except the property sector, reported higher year-on-year earnings.

“The reason why companies were able to deliver higher profits in the first quarter of this year compared to last year even though we are still in the pandemic is because they have adapted to the pandemic scenario by cutting cost and of course they also benefited from the lower tax rate, thanks to the CREATE (Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives) law,” Tan said.

President Rodrigo Duterte last March 26 signed into law the CREATE Act reducing the corporate income tax rate by 5 to 10 percent for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and other corporations.

Moreover, Tan said they remain bullish of the stock market on the back of efficient vaccination efforts and inflation reaching its peak.

“We remain optimistic as inflation has peaked, while the ramping up of vaccinations focused on vulnerable groups and NCR (National Capital Region) Plus should reduce deaths and help the economy recover faster, allowing the country to avoid a ratings downgrade,” she added.

The local stock barometer increased by 2.81 percent, or 176.08 points, to 6,446.31 points on Monday. (PNA)