Econet becomes Zimbabwe exchange’s third highest traded stock

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Zimbabwean telecommunications group, Econet Wireless, notched up $5 million in trade dealings on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) to become the third largest contributor to the local bourse's overall trade volumes of $25.13 million for the month of June.

Econet -- which has ventured further into banking, mobile money, mobile insurance and mobile phone distribution across the country -- is one of a few stocks on the ZSE that foreign investors are interested in. Econet is also Zimbabwe’s biggest mobile operator with over eight million subscribers.

On Tuesday, foreign investors purchased $75.6 million worth of shares in the company.

Econet has produced strong financial results. For example, after-tax profits for Econet’s financial period ended February 28 amounted to $119.4 million.

Analysts also believe Econet’s financial performance could help it weather a struggling Zimbabwean economy.

Analysts at brokerage and advisory firm, IH Securities, say in a report on the Zimbabwean stock market that Econet has significant upside potential.

They said the Strive Masiyiwa founded telco giant is "one of the more undervalued telcos" on the African continent.

"Econet traded $5.03mn to come in as the third highest contributor to total trades in June. (It) remains one of the more undervalued telcos on the continent, it has the defensive qualities to weather the current macro-economic conditions," said Dzikamai Danha, the head of research at IH Securities in the report.

The researchers says Econet's mobile money system, EcoCash, which now more than three million users, has "capacity to bring low-cost financial solutions to the growing portion of the population" who are either financially excluded or priced out of the banking sector.

Adding to the attractiveness of Econet Wireless is the company's increased attention and focus on data services.

This has seen it develop bundles for social media platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.

"The potential upside for data revenues is also significant as cheaper devices and more cost effective communication applications are developed," the report adds.

The liquidity constraints that Zimbabwe is currently experiencing are expected to be eased by earnings from tobacco sales which surged to $650 million.

Companies such as Econet, which rely on fast consumer moving products and services, are expected to benefit from this during the second half of the current year.

However, experts say the economic problems rippling across the country are expected to persist for the remainder of the year unless there are "substantial policy shifts".