Investment Insight: Equity

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  • 06 mins 07 secs

Learning: Unstructured

James McLellan, Senior Portfolio Manager, Border to Coast Pensions Partnership Ltd, discusses equity market performances since 2020, what risks there may be to the stock markets in the next year, and where he sees opportunities in the near future.

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Yeah. Yeah. Since the beginning of 2020 the global economy has experienced one of the most disruptive events it's faced in over 50 years. COVID pandemic. Despite this, markets have been very strong. Although volatility has also been high. This strength, with markets up over 25 means that in aggregate there have been more winners than losers and in reality very few segments of the market where prices are materially lower than they were at the start of 2020. Typically those stocks that are lower are found in parts of the retail, leisure and real estate arenas. Some of the biggest winners on the other hand have been the leaders of the transition to a digital economy. Yeah, growth prospects seemed very solid. Economies around the world are currently rebounding from Covid inspired slumps aided by successful vaccination programs and extremely supportive monetary and fiscal policy. As these recoveries gain steam, this fiscal and monetary support should gradually be withdrawn, but vaccinations hopefully will reduce the threat from further lockdowns interrupting these recoveries and strong investment and consumption trends should continue supporting growth and ensure sustainability of the recovery is quite solid as such. The outlook is promising. Mhm. Yeah. When we talk about risk, risk is really things we don't know. And to paraphrase the recently departed Donald Rumsfeld Rumsfeld. These fall into the categories of known unknowns and unknown unknowns of the former. We consider the risk of inflation has been the greatest risk markets face. There is a reasonable possibility that inflation will head significantly higher than we and central bankers have become used to with valuations in certain segments, segments of the market high and the strong earnings growth necessary to keep equities attractive. The prospect of interest rates rising to fight inflation is concerning as high interest rates present an alternative to equities in themselves as a destination for money, but also with slow economic growth. and let's undermine the strong earnings growth that we need. A double whammy in effect. Unknown unknowns by their nature. More difficult to identify or define. They can also be known as black swans. But the repercussions from these can be unexpectedly sig significant much as in the case of the Lehman collapse Back in 2007 Procedure in the financial crisis in 2009. In recent months, we have about two instances you may have read about Green Syl and Ar Kay goss. We have highlighted how interlinked markets are and how single events can impact many market participants. The impact of these events was limited but they did reveal the scope of the potential problem and it is possible that there is something that could happen which would trigger a more damaging chain reaction with potentially far reaching consequences. This risk to the integrity of the financial system is there and potentially significant? Mm hmm. Mhm. Yeah. Mm. Obviously in light of the market risks, we have alluded to the prospect of inflation as a theme. We are integrating into our work and which is reflected in aspects such as considering the pricing power of the companies were invested in sustainability. With that in terms of carbon footprints or other S. G. Criteria is also a theme that is gathering momentum and is unlikely to abate for some time as such. We're particularly interested in companies that offer solutions that will aid the cut the economy and the shift to a more sustainable basis and services or solutions to companies to aid them transition their business models to the new environment. Yeah, our investment philosophy focuses on investing in high quality well managed companies with sustainable business models and balance sheets that support that sustainability and business strategy that applies at all times right now with growth strengthening and the outlook relatively solid. It's an opportune time to spend more time looking at cyclically sensitive companies since they will be the beneficiaries of this strong economic growth. Also, given that we see inflation as a risk. And while we also always consider pricing power to be an important factor when considering the investment merits of a company, it's something that comes particularly to the four during inflationary times. And so that's an important factor that we'll be looking at. Besides this, we're also looking closely at our exposure to financials and banks in particular to make sure that is appropriate as they can benefit from rising interest rates. Yeah, Okay.

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