Global Industry Classification Standard or GICS, was developed by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI), and Standard &Poor’s (S&P).
"For sector classifications we are looking at it (GICS) because it’s an international best practice," Colombo Stock Exchange Chief Executive (CSE), Surekha Sellahewa said.
The CSE now classifies companies according to 21 sectors – diversified holdings; beverage food and tobacco; banks finance and insurance; manufacturing; construction and engineering; hotels and travels; investment trusts;land and property; motors; power and energy; IT; footwear and textiles; plantations; trading; healthcare; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; stores and supplies; telecommunications; services; close-ended funds and oil palms.
Under the GICS methodology, companies are classified based primarily on revenues; however, earnings and market perception are also considered important criteria for analysis.
Each company is assigned to a sub-industry, and to a corresponding industry, industry group and sector, according to the definition of its principal business activity.
Since the classification is strictly hierarchical, ateach of the four levels a company can only belong to one grouping.
The classification aims to provide an accurate, complete and long-term view of the global investment universe froman industrial perspective. For most companies, revenues reflect companies’ activities more precisely than earnings, asthey are less volatile than earnings.
GICS classifies companies under energy; materials; industrial; consumer discretionary; consumer staples; healthcare; financials; IT; telecommunications and utilities.
For instance, the CSE classifies market heavyweight John Keells Holdings PLC under diversified holdings. But under a GICS system it comes under industrials.
Sri Lanka got a taste of a GICS classification when the new Standard and Poor’s Sri Lanka 20 index was introduced on Tuesday.
"It’s a good time to have an index based on globally accepted principles, which is float adjusted," Alka Banerjee, Vice President of S&P’s Global Equity and Strategy Indices said during a launch of the index launch in Colombo on Tuesday.
The S&P Sri Lanka 20 index included JKH, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, one of the island’s most profitable lenders and Dialog Axiata Plc, and the country’s largest mobile phone operator.
"The new index, stems from requests we have had from foreign investors, for an index that is based on a global standard," Sellahewa said.
Developed over a period of seven-months, the S&P index tracks the 20 biggest stocks by market capitalisation.
Colombo’s benchmark All Share Price Index is currently one of Asia's worst performing indices, having fallen by over 17 percent since the beginning of the year, according to Colombo Stock Exchange figures.