Saudi Arabia’s recent pullback shouldn’t overshadow the fact that while net credit issued during April reached SAR3.2bn, well below the SAR7.4bn in March, YTD figures are still more than double the amount seen during the same period last year–an upward trend in extended private sector credit that analysts expect to persist in the near-term against the backdrop of King Abdullah’s hitherto mandated fiscal expansion plans (i.e. a new housing loan guarantee scheme by the Real Estate Development Fund and an increase in wages).  A sneaky way to tap this phenomenon as well as the Kingdom’s ever-impending paradigm shift in mortgage financing could be through Oman-listed Al Anwar Ceramics (AACT.OM) which, per Fincorp, an investment research firm, “enjoys a 50% market share in Oman and is seeing growing acceptance of its products in markets such as Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi, where demand for ceramic tiles remains robust.”  In fact, per one observer the GCC region remains a net importer of ceramic tiles, with factors that fuel demand including opening up of property ownership, growth in tourism, and the growing young population that props up demand for housing units.   A game changer for AACT, so to speak, came recently when the firm was allocated natural gas by Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas (in lieu of the firm’s originally-planned use of costly liquefied petroleum gas) sufficient for its 3 million square meter expansion which, per EFG Hermes, an investment bank should help bump gross profit margins going forward.  “The recent allocation of gas coupled with a cash flush balance sheet has increased AACT’s prospects of organic growth over the next three years [whereas] the lack of gas allocation would have challenged the company’s ability to expand organically,” it wrote to clients.  To date this year AACT has achieved 7% y/y growth in sales revenue and a 5.4% increase in net profit; its current ~10 p/e at projected 2012 EPS indicates some 33% upside in the stock versus current levels.

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