The 2014 All-Russia Research Team: Industrials, No. 1: Elena Sakhnova

Elena Sakhnova
VTB Capital

First-Place Appearances: 6

Total Appearances: 10

Analyst Debut: 2004

It’s five straight years in first place for Elena Sakhnova, 37. Characterized as “a straight-shooter” by one portfolio manager, the VTB Capital researcher tracks 11 Russian industrials companies and oversees a team of three that monitors 30 companies all told, including infrastructure, materials and transportation providers. One name Sakhnova has been steering investors away from is Berezniki-based Uralkali, the world’s largest producer of potash fertilizer. In late July 2013, when its global depositary receipts were trading at $30.75, Sakhnova reduced Uralkali from hold to sell. She cited both falling potash prices in the wake of the company’s troubled partnership with Belarus’s potash miner, Belaruskali, and her concern about the agricultural supplier’s corporate governance. A week later, Uralkali exited the Belarus Potash Corp. export cartel, and the GDRs plunged to $21.70. CEO Vladislav Baumgertner was subsequently accused of criminal wrongdoing, arrested and replaced on the company’s management team. At the end of May, the securities closed at $22.32, performing in line with the RTS Industrial Index since her downgrade. The analyst continues to recommend that investors sell Uralkali. In general, explains Sakhnova, she is “cautious on the performance of fertilizer names, due to tough market conditions.” She also is not looking favorably on the prospects for Moscow-based Aeroflot, the nation’s flag carrier and largest airline. Downgraded from buy to hold in February, on valuation, the stock tumbled 31 percent through May, to 55.15 rubles, lagging the sector by 14.1 percentage points. “She has had good stock calls lately,” sums up one fund manager.