Meet our analyst of the week: CI Capital’s Sara Saada
OUR ANALYST OF THE WEEK- Sara Saada, senior economist at CI Capital (Linkedin).
My name is Sara Saada and I’ve been at CI Capital since 2019. I graduated from AUC as a double major in finance and marketing and started my career in the central bank’s Reserve Management Unit. I spent almost eight years there and acquired most of my post-graduate knowledge from the CBE. I then left to get a master’s from London’s Cass Business School. When I came back I joined the Domestic Market Unit at the CBE and also acquired my CFA. In 2015, I decided that I wanted to shift from the regulatory side to corporate and joined HC Securities as their chief economist before transferring to CI Capital.
I now focus on macroeconomics in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the UAE and also cover the EM, MSCI, and EGX indices. Getting this wide exposure in the region was a big step in my career and I grew to love how fast-paced and dynamic each market is.
The best thing about my job is that you can always dig deeper and find new ideas. Every day is a new challenge with a potential for learning something new. Even when I feel like I found an answer, I try to find another layer by exploring the individual and unique economies of every market I cover which means looking at their politics, consumption, investments, and financial markets. Of course, the cherry on top is the positive feedback you get when you present something valuable or a call that materializes.
The worst part of my job is that I don’t always have all the figures and analysis I need. Not all countries I cover have the same level of financial reporting and it can be frustrating when you’re forced to come up with certain assumptions or proxies because of the lack of data.
I wouldn’t say less travel during the pandemic is necessarily a bad thing. Since covid-19 is a global struggle all countries are feeling, people are more understanding and flexible and the situation is mostly manageable. While nothing beats personal interactions, talking to people at home while their kids are screaming or their dogs are barking in the background also fosters personal relationships [laughs].
Roadshows aren’t dead, but they might be endangered. I definitely think their frequency will decrease except in certain cases where maybe a new team needs to be introduced face-to-face at first.
My theory of analysis is to always do a sensibility test — or in other words make sure that the outcome makes sense. I do that by having all the numbers and looking at the dynamics at play and making sure that they’re aligned with what’s going on on the ground. That includes expanding your view from just local dynamics to encompass global factors as well.
The most important factor I look at before recommending a market is its overall potential on a standalone basis in absolute terms as well as in relative terms. I have to ask myself both “who will grow” and “who will grow more”. It helps me determine what to overweight and what to underweight based on markets’ capacity to grow. I also look at how the political will to stimulate that growth.
2021 definitely could be the year of Egypt, as the worst of the pre-pandemic challenges were largely overcome. We went into 2019 with a monetary easing policy and 2020 saw fiscal consolidation, a strong support package, and an increase in the government’s investment budget that helped us outperform despite the challenges. We’ve also passed a disconnect between wage increase and inflation and the consumption overhead is behind us.
We expect 2021 to see an increase in private sector investing as the pandemic fades whether through vaccines or herd immunity. Having said all this, applying a sensibility test shows that these figures and what we see on the ground support the idea that 2021 could be a great year for Egypt’s economy and growth prospects.
If I had to cover other markets, I’d like to look at regions that are in a transitional phase. Eastern Europe, Latin America, and India interest me a lot. Transitional economies are where all the excitement is. Well-structured and developed countries already have the tools and systems in place, but in transitional countries or EMs, you have to get creative and develop plans and mechanisms that will result in a turnaround.
I’m a big believer that numbers and words have to go together — and also be aligned. In research, we present stories to investors and the numbers have an essential supportive role.
I have a new growing interest in political articles, especially about international relations. I’m a big fan of Thomas Friedman’s New York Times weekly column.
As the mother of two and half year-old Malak, the only thing I watch or listen to these days are nursery rhymes from Cocomelon on YouTube. When not working, most of my time is spent with my family and daughter and I also try to get in a workout every once in a while. Some days I also decide to allocate some time for me to do nothing but stare at the walls.
I stay organized by writing everything down and having a structure to what my week or month will look like. When I have a clear system and deadlines, I have more energy to focus on being creative in my research as opposed to always feeling lost among tons of things to do.
The EGX30 fell 0.4% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.67 bn (12.8% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 5.77% YTD.
In the green: Sidi Kerir (+5.0%), Orascom Development Egypt (+4.7%) and Sodic (+3.8%).
In the red: Ibn Sina Pharma (-3.5%), Emaar (-2.8%) and Heliopolis Housing (-2.6%).