After being the worst performing market last year, Indian equities staged a sharp turnaround and were among the best performers in 2012, led by sizable gains in banking & financial services (BFSI), automobiles, and infrastructure stocks.
According to Bloomberg, the CNX Bank Nifty has given returns of over 55% in 2012, thus outperforming benchmark as well as sectoral indices.
BSE Realty index was not far behind, giving returns of nearly 53% in 2012. BSE Automobile index (up nearly 41% returns) and BSE Consumer Durables index (up nearly 46%) also contributed to the rally. IDFC topped the charts this year, giving a staggering return of 88%.
Moreover, four more stocks belonging to BFSI space — Axis Bank (68%), ICICI Bank (66%), HDFC Bank (58%), and Kotak Mahindra Bank (51%) — featured among the top 10 gainers of 2012 among the Nifty pack.
Apart from the banking names, stocks like JP Associates (84%), Tata Motors (73%), Maruti Suzuki (63%) and Larsen & Toubro (62%) stood among the favourites.
Experts highlighted a combination of things — ranging from beaten-down valuations and Europe debt crises to interest rate cut hopes and economic reforms — as reasons for the rally in banking, real estate & infrastructure and automobile stocks.
“Year 2012 was the year of high-quality, blue-chip stocks. While many assumed front line stocks to be expensive, they continued to outperform the market,” said Raamdeo Agrawal, Joint MD, Motilal Oswal Financial Services.
Brokerages and experts continue to remain overweight on banking stocks in the forthcoming year as improvement in economic climate and expectations of cut in interest rates would lead to improvement in credit cycle.
“Banking stocks will continue to do well in 2013 and remain among our top picks. Infrastructure stocks would do well, albeit at a slower pace and would highly depend on co-ordinated actions on monetary and fiscal front,” said a senior official ICICI Securities.
According to a JPMorgan report on Asia Pacific asset allocation, the global I-bank major remains overweight on India, with more focus on cyclical stocks. “More cyclical Indian portfolio is the investment themes driving the transactions,” stated the JPMorgan report. While the first three months of 2012 proved goods for cyclicals, the next six-seven months saw investors' focus turn to defensives, with fund managers expressing their faith in FMCG and healthcare stocks due to India's twin deficit concerns and a weak currency.
According to Bloomberg, BSE FMCG and BSE Healthcare indices gave returns of