If you want to make money, you have to be a good… Sector picker

Many fund managers pried their ability to pick stocks, or, as the jargon goes « generate alpha » through stock selection (and with that the handsome fees they charge you). But the following 2 graphs show that rather than picking the right stocks, it’s better to pick the right sectors…

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Should you have gold in your portfolio ?

Jason Zweig from the WSJ published a column titled « Gold is still a pet rock » and its a great read (and obviously JZ is not ‘a moron’ as he calls himself)… He reminds us that if gold is a good « insurance against chaos », its value fluctuates so much it’s a poor protection of purchasing power for short periods of time. Lire la suite

Post Brexit, European banks have lost 228bn euros of market cap

Source: Goldman Sachs

Source: Goldman Sachs

That’s a severe correction (knowing it started way before the UK referendum). But Goldman’s analyst add some interesting comments:

 » Whilst EUR funding is exhibiting no sign of strains, funding pressures are gradually building in USD (USD/EUR and USD/GBP cross-currency basis) and GBP funding indicators. This said, they remain at levels that are a fraction of previous crises (2009 and 2012) peaks. We maintain that funding shocks are unlikely, given generous central bank backstops – these were sufficient to contain the aftermath of both the Lehman and European sovereign crises. »

European banks are probably stay in such a comatose stage for some time, as long as there are no sign of steepening yield curve or a better macro environment. On top of that, due to there high beta, banks are considered a good play to short the market when everything goes wrong. So be careful if you decide to pick one.

Is the Quest for Yield Distorting US Equity Markets?

« Low global bond yields are pressuring US Treasury yields, while inflation outlooks are muted and the Fed appears on hold with rate hikes. All of these points favor high dividend yields »… Makes sense although this is massively pushing investors into the most expensive territories of equity markets !

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Always a good question: what’s priced in?

And the answer from Barclays:

« While valuations are certainly not pricing in a full-blown global recession, we are not far away from pricing a 2012-style moderate recession. If such a scenario were to fully materialise, the fundamental floor appears to us to be a STOXX 600 level of 300 (c. 10% below today’s levels). However, if a more benign economic scenario were to occur, as per our economic team’s forecasts, we expect valuations to eventually revert higher. Till further evidence of this materializes, in the near-term, we expect markets to remain volatile and follow economic and political developments. »

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Morgan Stanley Cross asset views after Brexit

MS_cross_asset_views_Jun2016

Source: Morgan Stanley

Interestingly, one week after the event, systemic risk doesn’t seem to be an issue…

MS_cross_asset_views_Jun2016_Systemic_Risk

Source: Morgan Stanley

Views per asset classes:

  • Equities: stay defensive (global earnings have been falling, and valuation are relatively fair)
  • Currencies: USD bull market is not over…
  • Rates: lower for longer
  • Credit: best option for carry

Goldman’s strategy after Brexit

From GOAL report dated June 26:

« Brexit has driven a sharp drawdown in equities
The UK vote to ‘leave’ the EU has triggered a sharp drawdown in European and global equities. We have long argued that equities are stuck in a ‘Fat & Flat’ range given both elevated valuations and a lack of growth. The impact of Brexit on confidence and the ERP, as well as on European growth, increases the risk that we move downward in this trading range. We have highlighted risks of a correction in our recent GOAL – Global Strategy Paper No. 19 and strategies to mitigate this risk. A key concern remains the lack of diversification or availability of ‘hedges’ for equities as most safe assets, in particular bonds, remain expensive alongside equities.

Potential for further weakness & volatility in global equities We think equities will remain volatile and stay defensively positioned in our asset allocation (neutral equities over 3- and 12 -months, overweight cash over 3 months). While we think investors have been lightly positioned into the drawdown, we feel that due to policy uncertainty and lack of growth, risk appetite might remain low in the near term. However, a combination of further declines in valuations and positive growth/policy surprises are needed to stabilise equities within their ‘Fat & Flat’ range.

Lowdown on the drawdown
Comparing the current EURO STOXX 50 drawdown to history indicates that it might continue (most drawdowns have lasted more than a month), valuations might have to drop further and bonds have been less good hedges for equities. Gold and Yen performed best as ‘risk off’ hedges. »

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Great Video Interview of Piketty on Greece


Thomas Piketty : ceux qui cherchent le Grexit… par lemondefr

Unfortunatelly or fortunatelly the reporter who asks questions is completely in line with European commission’s dogmatic views. For a newspaper that claims to bring indepth analysis of economy and society, it’s a shame when one of his journalist only has cliches question to throw away.

Interesting Chart

Source: RF Research

Don’t underestimate Grexit risks warns Veronique Riches-Flores, from RF Research.

If Greece were to exit Eurozone, which would be unprecedented and is not anticipated by current European treaties (as far as I know), the consequences would be dire for financial markets.

Even more so since financial markets are globally overvalued, as illustrated in the above chart…

The Bruce Greenwald Method

h/t Value Investing World and thank you to Michael Mauboussin for initially sharing this…

A thorough review of Greenwald’s course on value investing with lots of very valuable content. For those who haven’t read his classic book Value Investing From Graham to Buffet and Beyond.

The PDF is here to download.

Greece: Time to Worry a Little or to Rejoy ?

Well, the markets are heading into panic mode, again. Brace yourself ! Lots of opportunities will probably arise, but wait a little, that dust settles down before chasing quality stocks at discounted prices, because right now, the market is still expensive and most quality stocks trade at a premium…

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BIS Annual Report Is Out With A Warning Message

Some valuable piece of information and insight on global financial markets, with a somewhat alarming message: « Don’t let the unthinkable become the new normal« .

« The global expansion remains unbalanced, debt levels and financial risks are still too high, productivity growth is too low, and the room for manoeuvre in macroeconomic policy has continued to narrow », warns the BIS, with a global message: current governance and ruling of financial markets around the world is a big mess and there is little progress in aknowledging and fixing that…

Full report is here.

It’s sad/funny that this kind of analysis comes at a time when the IMF is sending ultimatums to Greece which replies with democratic call to its people, something IMF’s leaders are probably not accustomed to.

Guy Spier’s Education of a Value Investor – A Review

Reknowned investor Guy Spier (Aquamarine Capital) published his autobiobraphy late 2014, a book entitled The Education of a Value Investor (Palgrave MacMillan). As Spier explains himself, the book recounts his journey from Wall Street where he started as a junior investment banker to becoming a Buffett’s groupie (like many value investors, including myself) and a famous value investor, with an outstanding track record (here it is as of end 2012). Lire la suite

Grexit: important facts in images…

Courtesy of Exane BNP Paribas’economist team, the Grexit case in a nutshell, actually 2 charts that might help clarify some points. According the Exane, Grexit now has a 40% chance to materialize.

About the timeline for the coming summer…

Source: Exane BNP Paribas

Source: Exane BNP Paribas

And here are the scenarios in the event of Grexit:

Source: Exane BNP Paribas

Source: Exane BNP Paribas

Obviously, investors should think about ways to protect their portfolios, but they shoudl also raise cash and be prepared to seize investment opportunities.

What to worry about – JPMorgan View

« The uncertainties that made us cut our risk OWs to small have not gone away and merit hedging. The biggest one comes from an early end to the cycle caused by the lack of productivity growth. Inflation will be the warning sign and should be hedged. »

Another good read from Jan Loeys and team at JPMorgan…  Lire la suite

The recipe to become a successful value investor

Back in 2003, reading The Intelligent Investor blew my mind. I had been a financial reporter for a couple of years, in a publication that was supposed to give valuable investing ideas to individuals. From 2001 to 2002 we just witnessed the market crash, and failed to help investors protect their capital. All the way down to capital destruction, bad investment advices, all to be ashamed of when I think about it in retrospect (I sincerely apologize for that by the way).

After having read Graham’s book, I actually wondered why no one had ever asked me to read the book BEFORE I joined the newsroom… The paper is still in business, but I’m not sure their readership has greatly expanded since 2003… Lire la suite

The irrefutable defense of passive investing by one famous active fund manager

Most of you probably know that Buffett has often made the case for passive investing, which might be surprising regarding his own track record as the smartest active manager on earth.

But he is not alone…

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Berkshire Hathaway 2015 Meeting Photos & Videos

Some footage from the « Woodstock of Capitalism ». Sorry for the poor quality of images, but you should be able to recognize some folks here and there.

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A Correction in the Making ? From Goldman Sachs

Derivatives specialists at Goldman have put up an interesting piece of research. Unfortunatelly, it only covers the US equity market.

From GS:

Over the past 9 months, the cost of SPX 55% OTM 5 year equity puts has more than doubled while the cost of 10 year puts is up 50%+. Long-dated options markets appear increasingly concerned about the potential for a decline in the S&P 500. Equity valuation and CDS spreads have been highly correlated with put prices over the past several years, but long-dated put prices have diverged. We see reason for concern as put prices were up a similar amount in 2007 ahead of the financial crisis, diverging from credit and equity at that time as well.

Source: Goldman Sachs

Source: Goldman Sachs

ECB decision and market comments

ECB decision: 60 bn € of asset purchase on a monthly basis, starting in March and for as long as the inflation trajectory of the Eurozone is not sustainable. This was partly priced. The expansion of ECB’s balance sheet is ON, so this will certainly have some impact on markets.

Key items of ECB policy action:

Draghi’s Speech

Asset purchase program

Here are a couple of first market reactions and commentaries.

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3 questions on ECB – Barclays

Barclays’ equity research theme has published a note about the 3 questions investors may ask about ECB QE and its impact on market.

Source: Barclays

Source: Barclays

 

Here’s the summary:

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Recap: asset classes and ECB QE – Morgan Stanley

For those investors who did not have time to read all Morgan Stanley’s reports about ECB QE and its impact on asset classes, here’s the summary of the summary.

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« The potentiel for yield mania in 2015 looks big » – BofAML

Yield search isn’t a new theme. It’s actually been around for a couple of years. But with a growing number of bond yielding zero or less, due to the « globalization » of ZIRP, the chase for yield is intensifying.

Here’s the stock of bond yielding below 0, that is that investors have to pay for to own… Japan is a clear leader, but we now see Germany, France, the Netherlands joining the club. While Japan is above 2tn€, the Eurozone is close to 1.4tn€…

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

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Forget QE. Eurozone has a bigger problem to deal with

And obvisouly, the equity market doesn’t seem to care (although that’s partly true). From SocGen’s quant team (one of the greatest read coming from a broker).

As shown in a report published today, SocGen reminds us that Eurozone equities have been a very nice performer over the last 30 months and « trade on an aggregate at P/E premium to the rest of Europe and the rest of the world ». The question they ask therefore is: « Where is the equity upside, if any, from ECB QE? »

First off, the rebound in EZ equity market has 2 reasons: the level of equity indices after the market crash of 2008-2009 and then after July 2012, the main driver of EZ equity rebound was of course multiple expansion, or, its equivalent, market risk premium compression. Lire la suite

Last Merrill’s Fund Manager Survey is out… and it’s not very optimistic

In a summary: cash levels remain high. Deflation in Eurozone is seen as the major risk (along geopolitical tensions). Investors are somewhat still optimistic about global growth, but less so than previous month and their expectations regarding EPS going forward have come up a tide grim.

The most contrarian call is Energy and Materials, but as long as oil prices do not recover, that probably to risky a call.

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

UBS on QE and its impact on corporate bond market

From Suki Mann, FI strategist at UBS (bold statements from us):

« Corporate bond market capitulation: Is it coming?

We believe that if the ECB announces any kind of corporate bond buying this week, investors could well embark on a fairly aggressive grabfest ahead of the actual commencement of the programme.

Already bereft of supply, decent yield, spreads unchanged into the macro-headwinds; and, plenty of pent-up demand for paper as cash keeps rolling-in to the asset class, we think that the actual announcement could see a lurch tighter in spreads. That is, QE is not in the current price. Some think it is, we don’t.

How much can spreads tighten? The answer ultimately depends on the modalities of the program (size, duration, mix). »

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Morgan Stanley on « QE and beyond »

From Srikanth Sankaran & Shrina B. Poojara at Morgan Stanley fixed income research team:

« We maintain a constructive bias on credit heading into Thursday’s ECB meeting. Despite the outperformance of European credit in recent months, we do not think that QE upside is fully priced in. A 20-25bp compression in IG spreads is likely, should the ECB deliver.    

Sovereign QE is now our economists’ base case: Our economists’ base case now is €500 billion of government bond purchases and €100 billion of private sector asset purchases. In terms of timing, the complexity of designing a sovereign QE programme makes January 22 an ambitious start day. Announcement in January and execution in March is more realistic, they think. »

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JPMorgan: there is a better risk-reward in Eurozone equities

Here’s the summary of their views:

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Big money managers said to launch a dark pool…

I’m not sure how this is good news for the liquidity of financial markets. First we had the regulatory pressure on exchanges to open them to competition, which split away the liquidity and has made it more difficult for money managers to buy/sell even equities.

Second we had the regulatory pressure on insurers, banks, pension funds to limit their risk appetite with contracyclical rules (which basically says: « you have to buy bonds when they are expensive and sell equities when they are quite cheap »).

So now, big money managers (Fidelity, etc…) are said to organize dark pools which would exclude hedge funds and investment banks (good thing) but in the end would reduce overall market liquidity. Imagine what will be left to individual investors if this project goes through and goes global…

Morgan Stanley has mixed views on EBC’s QE

Although the bank predicts the European equity market might gain c. 8% over next 6 months from QE’s announcement, its economist are still scratching their heads regarding the ability to implement and the benefits of this kind of measures. Lire la suite