PAKISTAN'S stock market boom should continue, says fund management group Thornton. Thornton's Pakistan fund manager, Haresh Balani, said healthy returns were still available there. 'You have to go there to learn and understand and find market investment opportunities,' he said. Mr Balani said the sale of part of Pakistan Telecom, the first major stock made available to investors, was a watershed. A successful sale would boost the market and enhance its attractiveness to foreigners. Earnings per share were growing at about 25 per cent to 30 per cent and Mr Balani expected the market to rise by about 40 per cent over the next year. He said the Pakistan Telecom sale would help boost total market capitalisation, from the present US$12 billion (about HK$93 billion) to about US$19 billion in a year. Other fund managers were optimistic about Pakistan but were more enthusiastic about India. 'It [Pakistan] is a less diversified industrial base with a heavy concentration in cotton and utilities,' said Jardine Fleming director Jonathan Boyer 'The reforms that have taken place have been less deep-rooted than they have been in India, although progress seems to be accelerating,' He manages the JF Pakistan Trust, which was launched last December. Analysts expect average earnings per share growth are expected to be about 15 per cent to 20 per cent. 'Pakistan is undergoing economic reform and has a place in emerging markets. There is very cheap labour there,' said Terry Mahony, HSBC Asset Management's chief investment officer for emerging markets. 'Unfortunately, they still run a very large budget deficit. Politically, it is not a stable country.' GT Management director James Alexandroff said the downside risks in Pakistan were not that high but structural problems remained.