Posts tagged value stocks
Value Strikes Back

That screeching sound you heard in equities last week was caused by a train wreck underneath the surface of a steady uptrend in the market as a whole. The hitherto outperformance of growth and momentum reversed sharply, a move that coincided with a steeper curve and a tasty outperformance of value and small caps. The dramatic rotation across equity sectors, and the steepening yield curve, vindicate the story peddled on these pages recently. But the question is whether this is the beginning of a sustainable shift in markets, or whether it’s merely an invitation to buy the dip in an eternally winning strategy? It’s difficult to say. Robert Wiggleworth’s expertly written overview of the flurry in the FT certainly suggests that strategists have taken note, equating last week’s gyrations to the so-called “Quant Quake” in 2007. Apart from the fact that the event is significant enough to merit at least a small footnote in modern finance history, the quotes garnered by Robin indicate that strategists are at least mulling the idea that the shift has legs. This, in turn, presumably means that they’re advising their clients to run with the reversal, which almost surely would do nicely for the portfolio

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Not long now

Too many themes have caught my attention recently, so I’ll stick with some points on markets this week, leaving my more discursive thoughts for later. I think two things currently are serving to make sure that markets resemble deer caught in the headlights. For starters, Mr. Trump’s Twitter feed is keeping everyone on edge, whether they like it not. Markets clearly are moving as he tweets—no matter how crazy the statements—and to the extent that the president is using his executive powers to affect policy, he is liable to announce it on Twitter, even if he does decide not to go ahead. This makes Trump’s twitter feed a bit like nonfarm payrolls. Everyone knows that it is a lagging indicator, that it is heavily revised, and notoriously volatile due to seasonal adjustment and sampling issues. Still, knowing the headline in advance can make you a lot of money. In short; traders have to stay alert to Mr. Trump’s volatile ramblings. Secondly, markets are waiting for the decisions by the Fed and the ECB later this month. Further easing is all but guaranteed from both central banks, but expectations are elevated, increasing the risk of a disappointment. In any case, it is fair to say that whatever they actually do this month, the guidance from messieurs Powell and Draghi will be just as important as the actual actions taken by the FOMC and ECB.

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Mark to Market

Barring a disaster in the final trading sessions of the year, the portfolio will return about 5%—excluding fees and dividends—in 2017. This is a far cry from the nearly 20% of the MSCI World, but better than a hole in the head. The good news was concentrated in the first half of the year. Profit-taking trades in Wells Fargo, Sabadell and Japanese equities added to the strong performance. From spring onwards, however, performance hit the skids, and only recently have returns started to improve. Slumps in General Electric, Xper have been the primary drags, but the dumpster fire has been more broad-based than that. A 15% allocation to gold and commodities—industrial and soft—for example, haven’t done me any favours either. Neither have exposure to producers of generic medicines and other small-cap pharma firms. Finally, various attempts to hedge out impending, but ultimately non-existing, sell-offs in the market as a whole also have hurt. Syntel and Urban Outfitters have been rising from the ashes in recent months, and I am hoping that further mean reversion will reach the rest of the portfolio next year. Given where we are in the cycle, the risk of a balanced equity portfolio losing money is rising. But let’s see whether I can’t come up with some ideas.

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Growth vs value equities: the key to what happens next?

It's official; everyone is now musing about the risk of a Fed "policy mistake" in light of the steadily flattening yield curve in the U.S. I have mused incessantly about this topic in recent weeks, so I will spare you the gory details of my view. It seems clear, though, that if markets were willing to offer the FOMC a rate hike in June for free, they are not going to roll over in September, let alone play along with a potentially fourth hike in December. In other words; the Fed is now on the spot. A swoon in risk assets over the summer—it has been known to happen—coupled with a further decline in long term bond yields would set up an interesting end of the year for the Federales. I am sympathetic to idea of one last deep dive in long-term bond yields to cement the fate of the late-comers to this rally. After all, we can't really talk about a policy mistake at the Fed before we are staring down the barrel of an inversion. 

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