Aramco investors should book profits now

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Ameen Nasser, President and CEO of Aramco, ringing the bell during the official ceremony marking the debut of the company's shares on the Riyadh stock market. Image Credit: Reuters

Singapore (Bloomberg): Saudi Aramco investors should take profit now after shares in the world’s biggest company jumped 10 per cent in their first day of trading, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. recommended in a note to clients.

A low dividend yield, the political risk of the government still running the company, and a bleak outlook for oil prices all point to a fair valuation for Saudi Aramco that’s about 28 per cent lower than the $1.88 billion it reached after its first day of trading in Riyadh, Bernstein analysts said in the note.

There may still be some short-term upside because of index inclusion and the difficulty of shorting stocks on the Saudi Tadawul Stock Exchange, and Bernstein said it would be surprised if in the short term the company didn’t achieve the $2 trillion valuation that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman set as a target more than three years ago. The current valuation only makes sense with oil at $100 a barrel, so the downside will eventually materialize.

“For investors who have benefited so far, we would take profit here,” Beveridge said in the note. “For those who have not, we would wait until a better entry point, which will inevitably come.”

Bernstein initiated coverage of Aramco with the equivalent of a sell rating and a target price of 25.50 riyals, below the 35.20 riyal settlement on its first day of trading.

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