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African agriculture stocks a better buy in London than Lusaka

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Look to London if you want cheap exposure to African agriculture, VSA Capital suggests, as it issued an upbeat assessment of prospects for Zambeef Products.

"The potential for Africa to feed itself and in the longer-term help feed the world through the development of its agriculture sector is well known," said Ed Hugo, at VSA.

But Mr Hugo noted that "despite encouraging words, government targets and an influx of private sector money, the sector has so far failed to live up to these expectations".

Investment boost

Although remaining cautions on the African agriculture sector as a whole, VSA flagged the Zambeef deal as "a bright point in a depressed sector".

Shares in Zambeef, the Zambian-based corn to retail group, soared this month after a $65m cash injection from the Commonwealth Development Corporation.

VSA pointed out that the CDC deal allowed Zambeef to take on full ownership of a chicken joint venture with RCL Foods, with less dilution of shares.

The company will also benefit from "the addition of a long-term supportive shareholder and its chicken operations now under 100% ownership".

London advantage

Shares in Zambeef in London are up more than 100% since the deal was announced, at 16.20 pence.

"We believe the stock should increase further from these levels," VSA said.

VSA was bullish on prospects for London-listed African agriculture equities in general, at least compared to those listed locally.

VSA said that analysis of stocks with exposure to African agriculture revealed that those listed in the UK were "generally undervalued" compared to those listed on African exchanges.

The broker suggested that "the London stocks have been pushed down by continued disappointment in the sector as a whole," while locally listed equities have benefited from "a more resilient bullish outlook on the prospects for the development of the African agriculture sector".

By Agrimoney.com

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