Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Meet our analyst of the week: Prime Holding’ Amr Hussein Elalfy

OUR ANALYST OF THE WEEK- Amr Elalfy, head of research at Prime Holding (Linkedin)

My name is Amr Elalfy and my slogan has always been “analyst by trade, human by experience.” As an analyst I always try to dissect matters and create a clear picture to communicate to clients, but I also tolerate making mistakes. I learned with time that mistakes can be beneficial if you learn from them.

I’ve been working as an analyst for the past two decades. I attended high school in the US and got my bachelor’s degree from Baruch College. My first job was actually at a hedge fund in New York called King Street Capital Management. Two years later I decided to come back to Egypt to take care of my family — I’m an only son. I jumped around many firms after coming back, but the first job I landed was at Prime Securities as an investment analyst. I then went on to CIBC, which is the precursor of CI Capital, before moving to Vodafone Egypt.

I felt like a fish out of water when I wasn’t in the capital markets world, so when I got a call to come back to CI Capital, I quickly moved back to the field. After six years at CI Capital, I went to Mubasher Financial Services followed by Shuaa Securities to start up both firms’ research departments from scratch. Finally, I came full circle and started working for Prime Holding once again. My specialties are the telecom and banking sectors in Egypt, but as head of research I end up covering everything.

The best part of my job is being able to voice my opinion. Once upon a time, my dream was to become a journalist, so in a way I think being an analyst is similar to being an investigative reporter where you dig deep and find the necessary tools to come to a conclusion and communicate it to the world. I also really appreciate the exposure to different sectors in the economy in a way that allows you to understand them well enough to move to them later on — the way I did when I moved from covering the telecom sector to working at Vodafone Egypt.

The worst part of my job is that it’s very hectic and a “lifestyle job” — which is what I call it. It’s never a nine-to-five job and can go on 24/7. You have to be alert to what’s going on and fast enough to come up with an instant opinion.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic was it showed that we can do our jobs from anywhere. I always say that what we sell is our time, minds, and ideas and you can do that from an office, your kitchen table, the beach, or a coffee shop.

I don’t like travelling, so I wasn’t too disappointed when it was stopped. Travelling for work is hectic and can often disrupt your daily routine. So in my case, I appreciate that I can still do my job without travelling. The pandemic also forced many firms and companies to adopt and enhance digital technologies, which makes our life easier.

I don’t have a theory of investment yet, but I hope to come up with one for my PhD, which I am pursuing at Ain Shams University. I studied for my masters at AUC and got my CFA a while later.

I also work as a professor part-time and have taught at AUC, GUC, MIU, and Helwan University, while at the moment I’m teaching at Ain Shams University. I love teaching as it is how I learn the most. You share knowledge, think about how to present concepts, and get asked questions from students you might not have thought of yourself. I even started a podcast to help students better understand the finance and business world called Chimp Talk.

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s very important to have and stick to a stop-loss when investing. You have to have a maximum loss that you can take and not let it exceed that on any stock. Something else I learned is to be contrarian. When everyone is looking at a certain sector with positive glasses, I try to look somewhere else that they’re not as excited about.

Before recommending a stock, I always look at the risk first. In my head, return may never happen, but risk will always happen.

From the capital markets perspective, 2021 can definitely be the year for Egypt. There are a number of catalysts that I saw as positive, among them are the IPOs in the pipeline, high liquidity, a positive economic growth forecast, and the EGX30 having a lot of room to grow. The only catalyst we’re missing is foreign investors coming back to the market, which I think could happen soon as well. When the dust settles on covid-19, investors will begin to look for countries that continued to grow despite the pandemic.

I recently started playing chess when I’m not working and I’ve found it helps me hone my strategy skills. I even taught my daughters Deema and Lama how to play and we often compete against each other. I also play soccer and I’m a big fan of El Zamalek… I guess I’m in the minority [laughs]. On longer vacations, I like to travel anywhere in Egypt — as long as I can get there without taking a flight, so the Red Sea and North Coast are among my favorite destinations

I often read articles and blogs written by UBS Chief Economist Paul Donovan. I even got to meet him once when he was in Egypt and he signed my book. Another writer I enjoy is Vitaliy Katsenelson — I relate to him on a personal level as he has a similar story to mine, and on a professional level as we both have similar investment styles.

I enjoy podcasts. I listen to Making It, Rule Breaker Investing, and Streetwise.

It’s important to have new beginnings in life, be it personal or professional, as it reinvigorates you and gives you a new outlook and direction.

My ultimate goal in life is to be happy. I also want to impact other people’s lives in a good way, whether it’s through work, teaching, or just on a personal level. I’m aiming to leave a legacy behind.

The EGX30 rose 1.7% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.1 bn (16.8% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is down 2.1% YTD.

In the green: CI Capital (+5.0%), AMOC (+4.2%) and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (+4.1%).

In the red: Fawry (-2.0%), Edita (-1.5%) and Credit Agricole (-0.1%).

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