The AS guide to company analysis
Let's stick to what we know
Another weekend another unpredictable political bingo, this time in France. I have a lot to say about this, but little of it has any value because like most of you, I have no particular insight into what the final outcome will be. My suggestion, buy some good French cheese and a nice bottle of Vacqueyras, sit back and just let it happen.
It would be pointless for me to go through my views on the market in this context. Instead, I thought that I would do a bit of legwork on company analysis. I don't often present this part of my work here, but I thought that I would make an exception. Think of it as an alternative way to look at the headline fundamentals, compared to what you see by the sell side. Picking the companies to analyse is an art in itself—in the sense that you can't look at everything—so I thought that I would run the charts and analysis for Johnson & Johnson, a stalwart U.S. blue chip value and dividend aristocrat. It's a good benchmark for this type of analysis, because it has a long and well-updated history of data, and because it will be easy for you to judge the analysis given the tons of information already available on this firm.
Good News and Bad News
Investors have found it difficult to resist the temptation to become armchair generals in response to the recent flurry of geopolitical volatility. I have some sympathy for that. Political experts told us that Mr. Trump would mark the beginning of a new U.S. isolationism, and even speculated about the emergence of a new Monroe doctrine. The president's "America First" discourse, the statement that NATO is obsolete, and the rapprochement to Russia were all pivots watched ominously by other world leaders, especially in continental Europe.
This story, however, increasingly feels like ancient history.
Markets in Q1 - jusqu'ici tout va bien
The bad news is that investors once again has to play armchair generals in the next few sessions as they try to gauge the importance of the Mr. Trump's sudden decision to put his foot down in Syria. There are no easy way to break this to investors. There is a lot stuff going on and even more well-minded "experts" who are ready to tell you what to do about it. The good news is that I am going to spare you my hot takes on this occasion, because I am going on holiday. My destination is Madrid, so please do look me up if you want a cerveza. I can most likely be found in one of El Prado's majestic halls. Assuming you lot haven't started a nuclear war and blown me to smithereens, I hope to be back next weekend with some more market-related meat and potatoes.
The first quarter was a pleasant one for investors. It was difficult not to make money on the long side in equities, while it remained slim pickings for bears. Bonds and credit rallied too, albeit less vigorously, and commodities also pushed ahead. The USD-bull story, however, fell by the wayside. My two first charts put some numbers to this. The first shows the total return-to-date for the main asset classes, and the second adjusts for volatility. Equities did the heavy lifting—with EM on top and Japan trailing—but the 8.2% jump in gold is also interesting. Not many have really talked about this, but it has benefited the portfolio in an environment where its core equity positions has been left behind by roaring benchmark indices. High yield credit in the U.S. has also pushed higher without much ado, while commodities have trailed. U.S. govvies have underperformed although, the 10-year bond reasserted itself towards the end of the quarter. Finally, king dollar was demoted to Jester.