Technology Outperformance No Longer Supported By Fundamentals

Source: Morgan Stanley

A word of caution from Morgan Stanley’s equity strategists:

« The latest burst of Tech outperformance has not been accompanied by superior EPS trends. Just now Tech shows few signs of stopping (or even slowing); for example: i) post its largest 1m outperformance versus the S&P since 2012, the NASDAQ is now 2.7SD above its 12M relative average; ii) 80% of constituents of MSCI ACWI’s IT index outperformed the market over the last month, the highest breadth reading since 2003. Amid all this euphoria we’d encourage investors to keep a close eye on EPS trends as the latest burst of price outperformance has not been accompanied by EPS outperformance. »

It seems investors have started noticing.

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Understanding P/E

Source: Pixabay

P/E remains one of the most used metrics to value stocks. It is very easy to compute. But it’s not always easy to interpret. « Most investors fail to have a clear sense of what a particular multiple implies about a company’s future financial performance and don’t understand how multiples change over time », according to Michael Mauboussin and Dan Callahan in a report published in 2014 by Credit Suisse (this article is mainly based on their note which you can read here).

Continuer la lecture de « Understanding P/E »

What Options for Buffett Who Has $90 Billion To Invest?

Short answer:  Not Many.

Facts: Cash & cash equivalents at Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) reached $116 billion at the end of 2017, compared with $86.4 billion at the start of the year. Per Morningstar’s Gregg Warren estimates, Buffett finds himself with « around $90 billion in dry powder that could be committed to investments, acquisitions, share repurchases and dividends. » Continuer la lecture de « What Options for Buffett Who Has $90 Billion To Invest? »

Ingenico : From Conquest to Caution

Source: Pixabay

Ingenico hast lost its mojo. A 7% miss on market expectations on EBITDA for both 2018e and 2020e has been severely sanctioned by investors. Shares of the payment terminal manufacturer lost 16% of their value on Feb 22, leaving the market cap of the company at €4.8 billion. At first glance, the fall looks excessive. But it’s probably deserved.

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Review the Basics: Thoughts on Valuation (1997) – Mauboussin

Michael Mauboussin is a highly respected investor, teacher, speaker and book writer. I came across a number of his notes in the past (including this one which I liked a lot). Thanks to the Internet and the many people who share good thinking, most of his notes are there to grasp and read.

While re-populating my blog, I came into his 1997 reflections on valuation. As Graham/Buffett nicely put it: price is what you paid, value is what you get. So to earn decent return when investing, you need to know the value so you can pay a price that gives you a good margin of safety.

The full note is available to read here. I just wrote down a couple of remarks that make sense to me and hopefully give you a quick overview of why it might be useful and what you will find inside.

Key purpose of the note is to defend the value-based approach of investing,  to keep in mind what really matters in valuation and not to fall into « market myths ».

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No Sign Yet of Central Banks Balance Sheets Declining

sea, wave

Total assets held by major central banks are above $20tn. While Fed’s balance sheet has stabilized, the balance sheets of ECB, Bank of Japan and Bank of China have been increasing steadily.

Of course, the reduction in Fed’s balance sheet, expected to effectively start in 2018, will have a material impact on financial markets – the recent spike in volatility might be seen as a sort of recognition of that fact.

But global monetary base is still growing, which will in the end limit the potential for higher rates going forward and sustain high valuations in financial markets.

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Rising Real Yields Are the Real Threat

https://pixabay.com/en/dollar-american-currency-money-17527/
Source: Pixabay

Deutsche Bank’s strategist team published a report to figure out what’s currently priced in by financial markets after the bout of volatility. Rising real yields are a clear threat to the rebound in equity market. But having recently talked to fund managers in other asset classes, real yields are a threat to many asset classes where lots of money have flown other the last years (EM debt for instance).

Here’s DB’s take on European equities:

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Putting Recent Market Sell-off in Perspective

Source: Pixabay

Markets have been unnerved by rising interest rates in the US, with ripple effects around the world. The most staggering event has happened on the VIX market with a number of funds/ETNs making the headlines after having lost tons of money. What should investors take from these events ? A couple of reflections and interesting comments seen here and there. Continuer la lecture de « Putting Recent Market Sell-off in Perspective »

Future For Malaysia Equities Is Bright, Says Nomura

Nomura expects Malaysia equities to return 4% in 2018 and says stock picking will be of the utmost importance to outperform.

The positive view from the broker stems from a number of factors, listed in a report dated Jan 22: « 1) solid macro and consumption growth, 2) continuing foreign inflows amidst positive revisions, 3) better corporate balance sheets with dividend upside, 4) possible election rally, 5) likely net buying by local institutions, 6) Malaysia’s laggard performance vs peers, 7) key concerns on banks getting addressed, 8) an appreciation MYR. »

The brokers set a 2018 year end target of 1,900 points for KLCI index.

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Markets Keep Going Up. Where Are the Risks ?

Rule of thumb: the more expensive a financial asset is, the lower its prospective return. That’s simple. But sentiment and markets can become and stay irrational longer than investors can stay solvant, they say. So if you cannot predict when the markets will turn, it’s probably better to check where the risks are and monitor them the best you can. And invest with a margin of safety. Always…

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Carrefour, Bompard and the Reputation of Management vs Business

Alexandre Bompard, the young and alert new CEO of troubled French retailer Carrefour, will soon have a chance to show if he can thwart this priceless but nonetheless true observation from Warren Buffett:

« When a management team with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact. » Continuer la lecture de « Carrefour, Bompard and the Reputation of Management vs Business »

Are We on The Verge of Final Melt-Up Before the Next Krach ? Jeremy Grantham Thinks So

According to Investopedia a « melt-up » is a « A dramatic and unexpected improvement in the investment performance of an asset class driven partly by a stampede of investors who don’t want to miss out on its rise rather than by fundamental improvements in the economy. »

This is exactly what could happen to financial markets, according to veteran value investor Jeremy Grantham. Continuer la lecture de « Are We on The Verge of Final Melt-Up Before the Next Krach ? Jeremy Grantham Thinks So »

Unibail Rodamco-Westfield: 2 Views from the same Broker

Unibail Rodamco (UL) announced a friendly takeover offer for Australia-based Westfield (WFD) in a deal that values the Australian mall operator at c$25 bn (on EV basis).

Interestingly, Bank of America Merrill Lynch has analysts covering both companies. Following the transaction, the team covering UL has maintained its Buy rating while the one covering Westfield has moved to « Not Rated », arguing that « WFD is no longer trading on the basis of fundamentals. » Continuer la lecture de « Unibail Rodamco-Westfield: 2 Views from the same Broker »

UBS Sees MSCI Asia ex-Japan and TOPIX at 790 and 2,100 Respectively End-2018

From Neal McLeod and team at UBS:

« Our base case: a benign growth and policy backdrop…
We’re forecasting global growth to stabilise at 3.8% (China to slow from 6.8% to 6.4%), the export rebound to slow somewhat, inflation to pick up modestly, the Fed to hike rates three times by end 2018 (from now), US Treasury yields to grind higher to 2.7%, Asia ex Japan currencies to be flat (in equity market cap terms) versus the USD and the Yen to weaken to 122.
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UBS Sees Stoxx Europe 600 at 440 Points End-2018

Per Nick Nelson’s report date Nov 13:

« We recalibrate our top-down earnings model as it had been persistently underestimating the turn in operational leverage. We now see 10% EPS growth in 2018. Consensus estimates are 8.9%, but adjusting for the average upward bias, underlying « true » consensus may be as low as c.2%. We see modest P/E re-rating to 15.7x from 15.0x currently. For the FTSE 100, we are more conservative and target 7,900 end-2018 (c.6% upside). »

« Upside risks: Equities re-rate to previous cycle peak valuations. This would point to c.33% upside from the current levels. European corporates re-gear to US levels. US investors return (net buying peaked in May). European M&A picks up, currently running c.30% below the US. Effective French labour market reform. »

« Downside Risks: Rates and bond yields rise too sharply. But a gradual move would likely be manageable – Europe has very little Tech (6% of index) and a large amount of positively rate sensitive Financials (c.25% of index). Significant Euro strength, on our forecasts (EUR/USD 1.25 end 2018) this is manageable. Higher volatility / political risks in Spain and Italy. »

Altice: Prefer the Credit to the Equity, says BofAML

Per Bank of America Merrill Lynch report published Nov 21:

« Altice shares have lost 50% of their value post results, while the CDS on the holding have increased by 300bps. Management took action with: 1/ the resignation of the CEO and the return of Patrick Drahi to full control of operations, 2/ admission of poor execution in France, now the #1 focus, and 3/ a priority on debt reduction, involving non­core assets and towers disposals. However, ATC also significantly rebased its mid­term expectations on France. Although the steps taken should comfort credit holders, we think the case for the equity is balanced, with long­ term upside on execution, content monetization and domestic consolidation, but unclear valuation support on our reduced forecasts, and a recovery that remains largely dependent on external competitive forces. Unlike Glencore in 2015, we don’t see material value­enhancing options to drive mid­ term outperformance and downgrade to Neutral with a PO of €11. Our credit analyst Nick MacDonald is positive on the credit »