WHAT F0 INVESTORS MEAN IN THE VIETNAM STOCK MARKET, CHICKEN TRADERS?

Many readers will be familiar with the trend of the new retail investors that have come along since the COVID-19 pandemic. The story goes that many younger members of the population perhaps were laid off by their employer, found themselves with spare time and government stimulus payments, and took to the stock market.

Since then, going along with this theme has produced other elements to the story. Think of huge numbers turning to the Robinhood app, the GameStop saga, and individuals such as Keith Gill and Dave Portnoy getting massive publicity. Meme stocks, and reddit groups such as wallstreetbets reddit, asxbets reddit etc many of us are now familiar with.

Such themes are well known in the US. Where I am from in Australia the theme is also very much prevalent, with a huge surge in new stockbroker account openings in the last 18 months.

Will we see Vietnambets reddit?! Surging volumes on Vietnam stock exchanges!

Let’s examine if this thematic is playing out in the Vietnam stock market. Has there been a retail boom in the Vietnam stock market?

f0 investors in the vietnam stock market, retail investor boom

Let’s revisit the initial headline of this blog post, what are “F0” investors? Well F0 ties in with the Covid-19 response, as the “F-system” helps with contract tracing. New retail stock market investors are trying something new for the first time, and something that is risky. Perhaps the most at risk of all the participants in the stock market? The F0 in the F-system with Covid-19 refers to the infected case initially identified in the chain of exposures, and most at risk. Like the new stock market investor, F0 is newly identified and highly at risk.

One of the articles I will soon link to also suggested that prior to the pandemic, these new retail investors in Vietnam were sometimes referred to as “chicken” investors. Why?

WHAT DOES CHICKEN INVESTORS MEAN IN THE VIETNAM STOCK MARKET?

Because these new investors may well eventually get slaughtered.

Vietnam stock market crash?

Is it to do with them only knowing the good times in the Vietnam stock market as they have come along just after the Covid crash in markets? They are conditioned to generally only experiencing rapidly rising markets. On a regular basis they turn to check their portfolios and always see gains (the chicken rocks up and gets fed continually). This goes on and on without them questioning any other alternative results that could come about. Until perhaps one day the market comes to a blow off top and the professional money uses the rookie (chicken investors) money as buying liquidity so they can exit with big profits. A bit like the farmer fattening up the chickens before slaughter? All of a sudden these chicken investors will want to panic sell without many willing buyers.

Sounds a bit dark doesn’t it!

Anyway my 2 cents worth is that this can be a little on the arrogant side making such assumptions. I remember in May 2020 there were a lot of very experienced investors saying that the new rookie investors buying in March, April, May 2020 were pushing the market too hard too quickly. They were to at the risk of being slaughtered, yet where are we now after more than a year has gone by? Most equity markets throughout the world are substantially higher. In fact, a lot of the so called “smart money” have often tried to short stocks that are popular with the rookie investors. The shorters have been the ones to date more likely to have been slaughtered!

MINI STORIES ABOUT THE RETIAL BOOM IN THE VIETNAM STOCK MARKET

Here I shall place some links to stories that clearly illustrate the theme of the rise of the retail investor is very much indeed alive in Vietnam also. I will place a few snippets under each link of some interesting comments within such articles.

Low rates and a pandemic usher new traders into Vietnamese stocks – Nikkei Asia

“During COVID I had some time to work from home, so I had time to do other things,” said Cong, who has a day job as an engineer. He downloaded the SSI trading app to track his holdings and said he checks it four times a day.”

Below is an interesting chart from the above article. For perspective the Vietnam population is just shy of 100 million. Note that the charts below are probably about 6 months stale. The dramatic surge in growth since early 2020 is the key point.

Asia’s Hottest Stock Market Has Vietnam Primed for Inflows – Bloomberg

“The stock market was very active and many of my friends were making money from it, so I decided to withdraw money from the bank to invest in stocks for a better return,” said Nguyen Lan Huong, a 30-year-old grocery store worker from the riverside district of Long Bien in Hanoi.”

A retail investor boom powered Vietnam’s stock market to all-time highs | Fortune

“For the first time in its 21-year history, Vietnam’s main bourse—the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange (HOSE)—halted trading for a whole session on June 1. The reason? A surge of orders, propelled by a boom in retail investors, had catapulted Vietnamese stocks’ trading value to an all-time high of over $1 billion. Exchange operators suspended trading for fear the system would crash.”

“Nguyen Thi Minh of Yuanta Securities warns that Vietnam’s new investors are prone to groupthink and may rush to exit the market as eagerly as they piled in. Many “don’t have thorough investing knowledge,” he says. “They’re just following investment trends.”

Some implications from the retail boom in the Vietnam stock market

  • Issues with retail trading execution? – In my last blog post I discussed the pros and cons of individuals potentially opening up a stockbroking account in Vietnam and trading the market directly. Here is the link I refer to SHOULD I INVEST IN THE VIETNAM STOCK MARKET DIRECTLY? – VIETNAM STOCK MARKET (vietnamesestockmarket.com). One of the potential disadvantages I pointed out was a less developed market is unlikely to have the same protection for retail investors like they might be used to in developed markets. In this context, the snippet I listed just above from one of the articles about the stock exchange trading being halted on June 1 might be a concern.
  • Heightened volatility – A theme coming through in the articles I searched was how the newcomers to the Vietnam stock market are contributing to increased turnover overall. Yet these newcomers have generally only experienced the market heading north. In the future they may well contribute more to short term panics on the Vietnam stock market. This could be exaggerated in smaller stocks that are not so liquid.
  • Bullish in the longer term – Although I mentioned a couple of dangerous aspects above, I see the trend for more retail involvement in the Vietnam stock market as bullish for the long term. Currently only around 3% of the population has stockbroking accounts, even after such huge growth in the last year or so. The below chart is quite interesting when we compare this to the presence of the Taiwan retail investor in the mid-1980s.

For what it is worth, if you bought Taiwan stocks in the mid-1980s you would be about to have an amazing run for the next few years as this trend took off!

  • What stocks will the f0 or chicken investor continue to favour? – The last implication that I wish to bring up in this blog post is one that I don’t have the answer to! If one is to predict the trend of new retail investors in the Vietnam stock market is only in its infancy, then maybe it would be good to know what stocks they are gravitating to now and why? I am not close enough with this topic to make much of a guess. If readers of this blog have an opinion here please share in the comments section. Some observations I made whilst searching on this topic is that the Vietnamese are looking at stocks to diversify their wealth because interest earned on their bank deposits has trended down. Are they searching for bank stocks as a replacement? They have seen property prices do well in the last 5 years, do they search for property related stocks where they might have a better understanding? With the new retail investors being younger are they searching for technology related stocks?

Are these 3 undervalued Vietnam stocks to buy?

Obviously with the disclaimer this is not financial advice, interesting if readers have any thoughts on these 3 stocks given my comments above? In fact I am nervous that the Vingroup share price ran up so hard a few years ago that it still might be vulnerable to a fall. I am simply putting my thinking cap on wondering what names the average small retail Vietnamese punter might feel comfortable buying?

In one of my first blog posts, I discussed Vietnam’s 10 largest companies on the stock market here.

SHOULD I INVEST IN VIETNAM STOCK MARKET LARGEST COMPANIES? – VIETNAM STOCK MARKET (vietnamesestockmarket.com)

Here is a snippet again from that blog post of a few of these companies, ones that relate to banking, real estate and technology respectively.

Retire on Vietnam bank dividends?

Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (HOSE:VCB), a leader in terms of Vietnam’s premier current account savings account (CASA) franchise. With such a broad national footprint the bank trades on higher valuation metrics.

Approximate Market Cap in USD Billions – 15.9

Vietcombank PE Ratio 2020 – 22.6

Vietnam real estate exposure?

Vinhomes Joint Stock Company (HOSE:VHM), together with its subsidiaries, invests in, develops, and trades in real estate properties in Vietnam. The company also engages in office leasing activities, as well as provision of real estate management and related services. It is a leading residential real estate developer in Vietnam, and has a history of success in delivering large scale and quality developments.

Approximate Market Cap in USD Billions – 14.6

Vinhomes PE Ratio 2020 – 10.8

Vingroup Joint Stock Company (HOSE:VIC), is the largest conglomerate of Vietnam, focusing on technology, industry, real estate development, retail, and services ranging from healthcare to hospitality. Investors have been attracted to the growth story of the car making unit in VinFast, and the prospects surrounding electric vehicles.

Approximate Market Cap in USD Billions – 17.2

Vingroup PE Ratio 2020 – 67

As usual, thoughts welcome!

Is Vietnam a good investment?

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