Everything depends on the slope of the yield curve
We see lots of commentary suggesting that the value style is going to outperform the growth style in Europe and the US. We also see this being used as a reason for rebalancing global equity portfolios away from the US and towards Europe. We disagree with both ideas and also with the big idea behind them, which is that government yield curves are going to shift higher and/or steepen at the same time. Indeed, the recent behaviour of US Financials suggests that investors are becoming concerned about the yield curve inverting over the medium term. We also think that the new emphasis on ESG guidelines makes the value/growth trade much more complex than it used to be.
Global equities are about to start rotating faster than usual
We expect global equities to start rotating faster than usual on a country/regional basis. We discuss the technical rationale in some detail, but the important message is that this not about the recent winners such as the US and India, or the losers like China and Korea, but all the others, which are somewhere in the middle. There are several European countries like Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, which are at risk of dropping down the ranking, while selected EM countries in Asia and Latin America could benefit. If our analysis is correct, this should happen before Christmas.
Works well but the downside needs to be managed
There is lots of client interest in alternative asset classes, mainly because bonds no longer provide enough income and because they are structurally vulnerable to inflation. This week, we demonstrate this it is possible to generate superior long-term returns by adding REITs to an actively managed portfolio of equities and bonds. The key messages are (1) that the combined portfolio needs to be actively and systematically traded and (2) that exposure to REITs must be properly constrained in order to avoid the savage drawdowns that are characteristic of this asset class. We also note that US REITs have performed very strongly this year, so now may not be the time to start this strategy.
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.
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.
US sector signals suggest a reappraisal during results season
Our US equity sector model has been unusually quiet of late, but we are picking up signals that this is about to change. The lead indicator for the scale of potential changes is close to a one-year high and the level of conviction attached to this reading is at a two-year high. We expect the rotation to start at the bottom and work upwards. Energy and Materials look interesting, while Staples, Utilities and, possibly, Healthcare look challenged.
Is the Boris trade close to its peak?
In Q3 2019 a group of housebuilders, utilities and dollar-sensitive industrials began to outperform the UK index on hopes that the Conservatives would win a general election. This created a powerful long momentum effect, but our analysis says that we are now close to maximum exposure. For the Boris trade to become more powerful, we need greater consensus on which stocks to underweight/short.
And why does nobody like Japan?
Two weeks ago, we had the lowest number of net buying opportunities for individual countries since May 2000. It’s hard to be bullish about global equities as an asset class when there are so few leaders. Japan is one of just three countries which look attractive on our system, but nobody seems to care.
Are we in a quant crash and what does it mean?
This week has seen a sudden upsurge in factor rotation at the individual stock level in the US. It may be too soon to call this a quant crash and we would be wary of attributing this to some macro-economic story, like a change in Treasury yields. The best explanation may be that it was so darn quiet immediately beforehand – something which our equity sector models show very clearly.