Recession Watch

Friday, November 3rd, 2023

An underweight in Industrials is rare and often spells trouble

We have downgraded the Industrials sector in four regions this week – to neutral in the UK and Pan Europe and to underweight in the Eurozone and Japan. In the last four weeks, it has lost ground in every region. Since the inception of our models, the Industrials sector has had the lowest number of underweight recommendations out of all eleven sectors (including Small Caps) and this is normally an indicator that investors are concerned about the onset of a recession. Small Caps have also seen a big reduction in their recommended weight over the same period, which reinforces these fears. Taken together, Pan Europe and the Eurozone are the worst-affected regions. The US, China and Japan all affected but not as badly. The UK is somewhere between the US and Europe. The narrative that the US will escape, while the rest of the world suffers, is not borne out by recent investor behaviour.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

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.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

The Case for Europe

Friday, January 20th, 2023

Currency, sector orientation and valuation are all favourable

The basic argument in favour of European Equities is that three of the largest sectors in the index, Financials, Industrials and Consumer are ranked in the top three in our models – unlike the situation in the US, where Technology is in the bottom three. All three have forces driving their outperformance which should last most of this year (respectively rising interest rates, re-opening of global supply chains and rearmament, and post-pandemic recovery). The region, its currencies and its equity markets were priced in October for a catastrophe which simply hasn’t happened, and which is now very unlikely. There may be some short-term profit-taking, but the excessive valuation discount and the currency misalignment will take longer than a few weeks to unwind.

Filed under: Categories: , , ,
Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Eight Non-Consensus Views

Monday, December 19th, 2022

A bearish consensus can still be complacent

We agree with the idea that US equities are going to suffer in the New Year, but disagree with many of the assumptions surrounding this view. We think US Treasuries are behaving like a risk-asset and cite their current elevated volatility as evidence. We highlight the positive correlation between equities and bonds, which means that there we may well repeat the bear market of everything we saw in H1 2022. On this basis, the dollar strengthens temporarily and the trough in equities is delayed till Q3. When the recovery comes, sectoral and geographic leadership in equities in likely to change and China will be a much bigger part of the story than Western investors currently imagine. The outlook for oil is anyone’s guess, but it will influence inflation expectations and generate bursts of volatility in all markets, contrary to its current benign behaviour.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Bear Market Sector Strategy

Friday, November 4th, 2022

What to focus on and what to ignore

It easy to be overwhelmed by the speed and quantity of information in a bear market. Investors need a clear focus on what matters and what doesn’t. In any bear market, there are about 10 sector pairs (out of 45) which really drive the performance of a regional equity portfolio and the rest don’t matter very much. These pairs vary from one bear market to the next but are relatively easy to identify. There is also another set of pairs, which may be significant in market cap terms, whose relative performance cannot be easily integrated with the rest of the portfolio. US sectors which feature heavily in this list in this bear market include Financials, Healthcare and Industrials. In Europe, they are Materials, Utilities and Financials.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Messy Reality

Friday, August 19th, 2022

Using sector betas to evaluate investor attitudes to risk

We wanted to get a handle on which equity regions had the most risk-averse investors, so we measured the beta of our recommended overweight and underweight sectors. We found that reality is much messier than we thought and that pre-conceived, US-centric attitudes to risk do not translate well to other regions. Our numbers suggest that Eurozone investors are the most risk averse, but the sectors they use to express this view are not the ones that US investors would choose.

Filed under: Categories: , ,
Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Estimate Breadth

Friday, July 8th, 2022

The raw data look reassuring but the trends aren’t

The percentage of companies in the S&P500 with no drawdown in their earnings estimates is declining and just about to drop below its median for the last 15 years. The percentage where there is a drawdown of more than 20% is about to start rising, but from a low level. We are still within normal ranges on both measures, but if they move out of this, the downside is significant and the recovery takes much longer than the decline. At the sector level, we cannot make sense of the relative rankings in several cases. In particular, we think the consensus is far too optimistic about the outlook for Industrials.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

Go Direct

Friday, April 29th, 2022

Compare equity sectors against Treasuries, not other equities

We think US equities as an asset class are going to struggle against US Treasuries over the next few weeks, partly because bonds have already priced in a lot of bad news, and partly because earnings estimates for 2022 and 2023 are too high. It may take investors some time to realise this, so positioning within equities or between equites and bonds may give rise to significant timing difficulties. However, our models are really clear about the relationship between Treasuries and some sectors, like Energy. There are at least four of these sectors now and this number could rise to eight. Investors may find that using this direct approach, comparing equities against Treasuries, rather than other equities, helps to clarify their thinking.

Filed under: Categories: , ,
Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

What’s Working Now

Thursday, April 14th, 2022

Our equity sector models do well when markets are under stress

Asset allocation is difficult at the moment, with bonds and equities falling in tandem in Q1. We are in favour of broader diversification strategies including other asset classes, but they should not be the result of hasty decisions after a bad quarter. All of our equity sector models have produced excess returns in the year to date and have a history of doing well when markets are under stress. Their best year for excess returns was 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic, and so far, 2022 is shaping up to be another good year.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN

No Limits

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Scope for equity position sizes to get much larger

The start to 2022 feels so hectic partly because the end of 2021 was so boring. The active weight in our sector models – our proxy for the risk appetite of equity investors – was at multi-year lows all through December. We think it is now close to bottom and there is no technical reason why it could not rise strongly in coming weeks. An increase of 40% in position size would only take us back to bottom of the top quartile in terms of risk-budget utilisation. We also think that the narrative of rotating from growth to value is a little simplistic. Many of these moves can be explained simply by looking at changes in estimate momentum.

Synopses can be downloaded by subscribers holding a Harlyn All Access Pass
PURCHASE ALL ACCESS PASS
Already hold an All Access Pass? LOG IN