Berni Moestafa — Indonesia, Asia’s second-best performing stock market last year, may be ready to join the so- called BRIC group of major emerging nations, according to Templeton Asset Management Ltd.
“Indonesia’s political and economic outlook has improved tremendously in recent years,” Templeton portfolio manager Dennis Lim wrote in a note yesterday on Chairman Mark Mobius’s blog. “So clearly, it would not look out of place beside the BRIC countries.”
Inclusion in the category — Brazil, Russia, India and China — coined in 2001 by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Economist Jim O’Neill may increase demand for Indonesian stocks. Investors should “stick with the BRICs,” a group that “tends to outperform in non-recession years,” Morgan Stanley strategists led by Jonathan Garner said last week.
The Jakarta Composite index jumped 87 percent last year as Indonesia skirted the global recession after nine interest rate cuts by the central bank. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s re-election in July boosted confidence he will maintain policies that helped Southeast Asia’s biggest economy expand more than 6 percent annually in the two years until 2008.
Economic growth may average 6.6 percent over the next five years as poverty and unemployment decline, Yudhoyono said on Jan. 4. Fitch Ratings on Jan. 25 raised Indonesia’s credit ratings to one level below investment grade.
Fitch’s rating upgrade reflects Indonesia’s economic resilience and an improving balance of payments, said Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Hartadi Sarwono. Foreign-exchange reserves rose to $69 billion as of Jan. 22, he said.
“Being in the same group as BRIC may get Indonesia more attention from investors,” said Finny Fauzana, a fund manager at PT PNM Investment Management, which oversees about $139 million in assets in Jakarta. “But foreign investors putting money into the real economy need more than that because they consider a lot of other factors such as regulation and taxes.”
Indonesia ranks 122 out of 183 economies in a World Bank 2009 survey on business-friendly practices. President Yudhoyono said on Oct. 20 he would reduce bureaucratic “bottlenecks” that hinder investment. He campaigned for re-election in July on a pledge to double spending on roads, rails and ports to $140 billion over the next five years to boost economic expansion.
Growth may accelerate to 7 percent from 2011, providing the case for Indonesia’s inclusion into BRIC, according to a Morgan Stanley report in June. Emil Salim, a former cabinet minister, said in July that Indonesia’s targeting to “put another ‘I’ into BRIC,” adding the goal may be achieved in five years.
“The BRICs theme, which played well in 2009, continues to resonate in early 2010,” Cambridge, Massachusetts-based funds tracker EPFR Global said Jan. 21. Dedicated BRIC equity funds recorded inflows of $182 million in the third week of January, compared with the $103 million average last year, EPFR said.
Overseas investors have bought a net 666 billion rupiah ($71 million) of the shares this year, according to exchange data. Overseas investors purchased 13.3 trillion rupiah of the shares last year, down from 18.7 trillion rupiah in 2008.