FondsAnbieter- GAM: Weekly Manager Views

14. Januar 2015 von um 11:00 Uhr
Anbieter. Berichten.Wie beurteilen FondsAnbieter ihre Anlagerreigionen ? Wie fällt die Analyse der Kapitalanlagegesellschaften (KAG) über Fundamentaldaten, Währungen und Kapitalflüsse aus? Informationen direkt aus dem Research Centern der FondsBranche finden SJB FondsBlogger in der Kategorie "Anbieter. Berichten."

unabhaengigkeitFondsAnbieter-GAM: The euro share class of GAM Star Continental European Equity outperformed the benchmark, the MSCI Europe ex-UK index, by 5.4% in the final quarter of the year, recovering a substantial amount of the underperformance suffered in the earlier part of the year. The key drivers of outperformance were many of our long-held positions that had drifted – and thus de-rated – for much of the year but put in a strong return in the final quarter. Such stocks include Kone, Wirecard, Duerr, Publicis, Inditex and Anheuser-Busch InBev. The market had ignored key fundamental aspects of these companies, such as strong cash generation and high returns on capital employed, for most of the year, but finally started to appreciate these, together with the stocks’ attractive valuations. Another positive was that the fund did not hold any companies operating in the oil or mining sectors. The euro share class of GAM Star European Equity also put in strong numbers, with an outperformance of 4.5% over the three-month period.

The leading contributor during the quarter was the budget airline Ryanair, which announced several significant increases in expected earnings during the quarter on the back of excellent operating performance of the business as customer growth picked up markedly following some adjustments to the business model. The stock exchange Euronext was also a strong performer; the company came to the market in 2014 on a very attractive IPO valuation considering its prospects for volume pick-ups and cost-cutting measures. The shares initially performed poorly, however, as evidence of strong operational performance became apparent through quarterly results the shares began to strongly outperform. We expect the share price appreciation to continue into 2015.

Entering 2015, our portfolio positioning remains largely unchanged from 2014 and we continue to focus on two key growth themes. The first is investment in cyclical consumer and industrial stocks exposed to the eurozone, especially Spain, as we believe the economic environment to be more positive than espoused by many experts and economic commentators. We are particularly optimistic on the economic recovery in Spain and so have invested in companies such as Mediaset Espana, DIA (a discount retailer), World Duty Free, Inditex and other companies exposed to Spain.

The second key theme is investing in structural growth businesses with sound balance sheets and good earnings growth prospects, such as Wirecard, Henkel, Fresenius, AB Inbev, Pernod Ricard, Duerr, Publicis and Kone. Even if the P/E multiples of these stocks do not increase materially throughout

the year, our portfolios will still benefit from the earnings growth and dividends paid out by these companies.

We have almost no exposure to energy, commodities and companies supplying those industries.

In terms of valuation, the portfolios’ P/E ratios are slightly ahead of the market, but enterprise value and free cash flow yield metrics are in line, reflecting the greater balance sheet strength and free cash generation of our stocks. As our stocks also grow considerably faster than the average we consider this to be attractive.

Over the past few months, European markets have become expensive versus historical data. The region has endured some headwinds, including the events involving Russia and Ukraine, as well as widespread fears of deflation. As a result, fund managers have been much more selective within their portfolios in these more challenging economic conditions.

In addition, European company earnings have not grown over the past four years, and share price appreciation has meant that earnings multiples have expanded. We are also seeing a continuation in downward earnings revisions, just like in previous years. The lower oil price and the weaker euro have so far not made a difference. Hence, it remains as important as ever to differentiate between those companies that can deliver on their outlooks and on the market’s expectations and those that are likely to disappoint.

In order to adjust to that more difficult environment we have moved the short portfolio towards a more aggressive stance since the second quarter. Over the previous two or three years it has been problematic to short many stocks against the backdrop of a generally rising market, but that has now changed. We made healthy returns in the second part of 2014 from the short book. Looking at the market since September, European equities have been relatively volatile. Against this backdrop we managed to generate positive performance from our short portfolio each month. Absolute returns are our objective regardless of the volatility of the market, so we are satisfied with this result.

We have also focused the long book on companies with growth prospects that are independent of the economic conditions, for example those that are supported by strong balance sheets. We have found these in the insurance, technology and healthcare sectors.

There have been few surprises within the portfolio in terms of how companies’ share prices reacted to both positive and negative newsflow. Within the long book, despite the weak economic environment we benefited from better-than-expected profits from companies in certain sectors. For example, the Dutch technology firm ASML, industrial companies including Ashtead in the UK, and telecoms companies, such as Deutsche Telekom. Those stocks that beat expectations were rewarded.

The characteristics that are common in our long book are companies with strong balance sheets, and those exposed to structural growth. Examples include Whitbread and Next in the UK, and the pharmaceutical stock Novartis. A few insurance companies also have these same characteristics. On top of these steady growers, we have identified some companies within the technology sector that are strong earnings stories, such as Ingenico. The long portfolio overall trades on 15x earnings, so our names do not trade at a premium to the market. We feel we are currently well positioned.

We made a recent addition to the long book within telecoms. After being short for a significant period we have started to become positive on the sector. We initially took some positions in Germany but we have now broadened out the theme. Consumer prices for mobile phone contracts in many European countries have fallen to levels where it is hard to see them declining further. Further price deflation from here looks unlikely.

Looking at the short portfolio, we have recently started shorting oil services companies, which has proved a beneficial strategy, as well as having some success with some industrial names. There have also been some pockets of opportunity within the otherwise successful technology sector. Companies with structural problems and areas where capex is being cut in general continue to appeal to us. The short book trades on 17x earnings and the earnings growth expected by consensus is not achievable, in our view.

Again, we believe the book is well positioned, which was also confirmed by the resilient performance of the portfolio in the tricky first few days of 2015.

Of our less successful trades, the most evident was a publishing company in Norway, which we shorted for a while. It subsequently announced a merger of some of its loss-making activities and rose some 40%. Despite this, the composition of the portfolio allowed us to have a strong second half to last year and end 2014 in positive territory. Our view is that volatility will remain high in Europe. We do not yet know what actions the European Central Bank will take, and whether some form of quantitative easing will be introduced. We are now seeing deflationary numbers coming out of Europe, which may prompt earlier action, and additionally Russia is an unpredictable factor. Against these and many more uncertainties, the market remains expensive when looking at price to earnings ratios. But dividend yields are attractive compared to bonds, so we believe markets can rise by limited amounts and with high volatility. Our fund instead focuses on alpha and we aim to achieve good performance with low volatility.

The start of 2015 features many of the same predictions that we saw at the beginning of last year. For example, the forecast for US bond markets remains bearish, but the degree of bearishness has hit the highest level in five years. Meanwhile, risk assets are forecast to do well.

It is important to remind ourselves and our investors of the current state of bond markets by highlighting just how expensive they have become following the various rounds of quantitative easing across the world. An illustration of this point is European and Japanese bonds: a full 90% of government bonds trading in these markets and maturing within 15 years are yielding less than 1%. 40% of bonds in these markets maturing in less than five years give nominal yields below zero. In the US and UK, the numbers are lower but still impressive: There, 40% of US Treasuries and 25% of UK Gilts are yielding less than 1%. These are very low levels of absolute yields. But so far, it has been a painful period for those investors – like us – that have felt that these yields are too low given the state of economic health in these countries.

As we continue to believe that bond markets are very expensive, our absolute return portfolios remain short duration, and should hence do well in an environment of rising rates. However, we see two risks to our strategy in the event that bond yields fall further. The first risk is that this happens in a calm and gradual manner. In that case, we expect investors to continue in their ‘hunt for yield’ by extending the duration of their assets or moving into alternative sectors, like emerging market local bonds, or alternative asset classes, like equities which look particularly attractive relative to bonds on the basis of income. For example, the 30-year German Bund is yielding less than half the dividend yield of the DAX index. We expect our portfolios to be able to tick over in an environment of slowly declining yields, to which we attribute a 30% likelihood.

The second risk would be that US Treasury yields suddenly collapse due to, for example, an external shock of some sort. Then we predict that credit spreads and equities would suffer. Although we assign a probability of no more than 10% to this scenario, we have a number of option trades in place to protect our portfolios.

We remain true to our value-investing approach, buying securities that we believe are cheap and selling those that are expensive. Unfortunately, value investors can be proven wrong for an extended period, as is the case currently. But we believe that from a fundamental point of view, the dichotomy between the expensive nature of bond markets and reasonably good health of many economies cannot go on forever and that this gap needs to close. While we have not changed our views, we have reduced some positions following a very difficult December.

The fall in bond yields has been most pronounced from the nominal yield viewpoint, less so in real (inflation-adjusted) terms. Inflation-linked bonds in the one-to-five year area – of which we hold none – have done very poorly in price terms recently, while 28-year equivalents have, helpfully, made gains relative to similar duration nominal Treasuries.

The sharp drop in the oil price, and the subsequent fall in inflation, was a development that we had not foreseen in that magnitude and which hurt our portfolios consequently. Given the technical, economic and also political dynamics of the oil industry, we may well see oil prices fall further in the short term and stay low for an extended period. Our modest long position (which too has been trimmed) in the Norwegian krona suffered collateral damage in that regard, as Norway’s oil revenues will be impacted and will likely prove a drag on the currency.

 

 

 

Über GAM

GAM wurde 1983 als FondsTochter der UBS gegründet. Von 1999 bis 2005 gehörte die Gesellschaft zum Bankhaus Julius Bär. Seit September 2009 ist GAM selbständig. Fonds: 450. Verwaltetes Vermögen: 36,9 Mrd. Euro. Anzahl der Mitarbeiter: 760. Geschäftsführer: David M. Solo.

 

Kategorien: Anbieter. Berichten.
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