Should We Worry about Health

Friday, December 1st, 2023

The sector is in need of therapy

Healthcare has been underperforming all year. We are underweight in the US and Japan and may soon be forced to downgrade in Europe as well. There are a number of possible explanations, ranging from the industry specific to macro-economic, and from portfolio construction to US politics. None of them, on their own, is particularly convincing, but in combination they form a powerful cocktail. Our models are telling us there is a problem, but we are not sure what it is.

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The Next Ten Percent

Friday, September 15th, 2023

What happens if US equities have a correction

We think that US equities may be vulnerable to a correction over the next two to three months. Our models suggest that the Technology sector may be about to underperform and that this could put pressure on other related sectors which have also performed strongly this year. We identify three separate trades which may be able to mitigate some of the impact: long-dated US Treasuries, large cap Japanese equities and Energy equities in the US and Europe. The rationale behind each idea is discussed in detail in the note, but the key point is that they are largely unrelated and therefore offer an interesting diversification strategy as well.

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For the Unbelievers

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

Low risk, not high return, makes Japanese equities attractive

Our proprietary volatility index dropped out of the danger zone three weeks ago, having warned us back in May 2022 that something was going to break. This helps to explain why investors feel so comfortable with equity risk at the moment. All equity regions have levels of realised volatility below their 25-year median and only US Treasuries are still in the danger zone. The volatility of Japanese equity returns is in the 13th percentile of its 25-year history. Investors don’t have to believe the new (or is it the old) shareholder activism story. The risk-cost of entry into Japanese equities is low by historical standards and that is enough to make the risk-reward calculations work.

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Nothing Doing

Friday, May 19th, 2023

Only high-conviction idea should be actioned

These are confusing times in financial markets, with little direction in any of the main asset classes. This week, we focus only on the high-conviction ideas generated by our models covering asset allocation, commodities, equity sectors, individual countries, credit and different maturities in government bonds. In general, there are more negative, than positive, high-conviction ideas. These include topping signals in many Eurozone countries such as France, Italy, Germany and Spain and for the Eurozone as a whole. We have high-conviction negative signals in Financials across all regions, apart from China, and other pre-recession signals in sectors like US Industrials and UK Materials. The positive signal in asset allocation is for US equities, but the level of conviction is lower than the negative call on the Eurozone, and is heavily dependent on the positive view of US Communications going forward. We like Europe, ex Eurozone, particularly Switzerland and Denmark, and detect signs that India may be bottoming, though the rest of EM Equities are highly unattractive.

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Switch Off the Autopilot

Friday, October 7th, 2022

Currency impact on equity allocation is now extreme

The strength of the US dollar has hugely overstated the attractiveness of US equities to both US and international investors. The currency effect against developed markets is more powerful than it has been in all but 3% of weekly observations, going back to 1995. This is fine while it lasts, but one day it will go into reverse. Meanwhile, the dollar index is approaching generational highs. After the last tech-bust and peak dollar, US equities underperformed the rest of the world, in dollar terms, for the next five years (2003-08).

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Pivot to Asia

Friday, July 22nd, 2022

It may be the least-worst option

There is a leadership vacuum in global equity markets. The US, the Eurozone and the UK all have serious issues to confront, ranging from valuation excess and monetary tightening to political uncertainty and energy rationing. Japan and Emerging Asia share some of these problems but are not as badly affected. One is a low return, risk reduction trade, while the other offers high risk and high reward. Both strategies have a place in a well-diversified global equity portfolio.

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Three Quick Ideas

Friday, September 10th, 2021

End of summer lull makes us cautious about big calls

We are always wary of making big calls on the basis of thin summer markets, so here are three quick ideas. First, Japan produced an important technical buy signal just before Prime Minister Suga announced his resignation. It is very similar to the one at the start of the Abenomics rally in 2012. Second, the recommended weight of US equities to the rest of the world is at a 10-year high and it does not normally hold this level for more than a month. Third, we think European industrials are out of line with US Industrials and potentially vulnerable.

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There Will Be A Correction

Friday, April 23rd, 2021

But we don’t know when, why or how much

With very few exceptions, our main risk-appetite indicators are at or close to maximum risk-on. We see evidence of peaking behaviour in global equities vs global fixed income, in US Credit, and cyclicals vs defensives in the US, Japan and the UK. There is one indicator – Italian vs German government bonds – which is already past its peak. Most investors understand this and intend to use any correction as a buying opportunity. However, it still makes sense to take some risk off the table now, if only to put it back on at a lower price. We are also concerned that investors may be ignoring an uptick in geo-political risk.

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To See Ourselves as Others Do

Friday, March 26th, 2021

US investors have few diversification opportunities in Europe

Eurozone equities may be cheap when compared to the US, but that’s not really important. Over the last10 years, US investors have never been able to generate a superior risk-adjusted return by diversifying into the Eurozone index, no matter what tactical allocation strategy they follow. The picture is marginally better if we look individual sectors over a shorter time-frame, but Japan and Asia ex Japan, do much better on this test.

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How the World Turns

Friday, November 27th, 2020

The value trade won’t work everywhere

This report is a real-time survey of how the great rotation is progressing in different regions of the world. Our conclusions are (1) Many of the important sector infection points happened back in September; so talking about them now in terms of factors suggests that people missed them the first time round. (2) The UK has much the most aggressive sector rotation and China the least. (3) There are different winners and losers in each region and any attempt to apply one paradigm to all of them is likely to fail. (4) Many value-rich sectors in each region have hardly moved, suggesting that the value trade has already been differentiated into those sectors which have catalysts and those which don’t.

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