Investment Insights

 

Future Quality Insights - June 2021

Who hasn’t sat at home, shouting at the TV as a contestant on a quiz show offers up a hopelessly wrong answer? Incredulity, frustration and a sense of helplessness are all common emotions in that situation. At least you normally get a good laugh at the end of it.

Rising nationalism spurs Chinese consumers to go local

With the recent rise of nationalism in China, many foreign brands operating in the world’s second largest economy are now treading very carefully in their marketing campaigns and public communiqué.

While the Japanese equity market managed to strongly rebound in 2020 after a sharp fall at the start of the pandemic, it has lagged its peers in 2021 amid the country’s struggle to contain COVID-19 and its slow rollout of vaccinations.

Until recently, Japan was lauded as one of the few countries that successfully limited the COVID-19 outbreak. However, more than a year into the pandemic, Japan’s slow vaccine rollout is coming under increased scrutiny with the country lagging far behind its G7 peers in vaccinations.

Multi-asset Monthly - May 2021

The US Treasury (UST) market has been an important barometer of the reflation trade for markets this year. Most asset classes have performed in line with movements in UST yields as correlations, whether positive or negative, remain strong.

Asian Equity Monthly – April 2021

Asian stocks turned in decent gains in April on optimism about the region’s economic recovery, especially after China and several other Asian countries reported better-than-expected 1Q21 GDP growth. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index gained 2.5% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - April 2021

US Treasury (UST) yields stabilised in April. Yields came off despite domestic data confirming that the US economy had gained momentum, and inflation numbers that were above market expectations. The Federal Open Market Committee statement announced no new changes to the direction of monetary policy but offered a more upbeat tone on the outlook.

Net zero carbon: Is it all just hot air?

"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing", quipped Oscar Wilde.

Japan Equity Monthly - April 2021

We gauge Japan’s slow vaccine rollout from an economic perspective and assess the shift in work styles that occurred during the pandemic and its potential impact on real estate prices.

The case for Asian small caps

Exhibiting an extensive track record of outperformance versus big caps and offering good diversification from traditional equities, we believe that Asian small-cap stocks provide numerous investment merits for long-term investors.

Core markets fixed income quarterly

The striking 52% year-on-year surge in prices of second-hand US vehicles has, as expected, caught market attention, with global chip shortages often blamed for the disruption in the market for used cars. Behind the scenes, however, stands Joe Biden, the US incumbent president, whose first 100 days in the office was marked by several milestones, some of which could quite convincingly add more “meat” to the story.

Global Equity Quarterly Q1 2021

Our philosophy is centred on the search for “Future Quality” in a company. Future Quality companies are those that we believe will attain and sustain high returns on investment. ESG considerations are integral to Future Quality investing as good companies make for good investment.

Emerging market fixed income quarterly

Emerging Markets (EM) debt began 2021 by consolidating after an exceptional performance at the end of 2020. The negative performance was mostly driven by a widening of US Treasury yields while spreads remained broadly unchanged.

Global credit quarterly

The global credit market saw a positive start into the year in Q12021 as spreads continued to tighten. However, total returns were negatively impacted by the global move toward higher rates. At the beginning of 2021, cyclical sectors came back to the forefront and outperformed. Energy and automotive sectors were among the winners, while utilities lagged the rally.

Multi-asset monthly - April 2021

As reflationary dynamics gain support from refreshed stimulus in the US and a largely successful vaccine rollout with returning growth already to show for it, the reflation trade appears a bit exhausted as measured by market action. However, we see the current dynamic more as a pause than a conclusion.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - March 2021

The UST yield curve steepened further in March as stronger-than-expected domestic economic data prints, passage of the US dollar (USD) 1.9 trillion stimulus package and a ramp-up in the rate of US vaccinations amid slowing daily infection rates prompted investors to increasingly price in accelerating growth in the coming quarters.

Asian equity monthly – March 2021

Asian stocks succumbed to profit-taking in March as hopes over a vaccine-led regional economic recovery were overshadowed by persistent reflationary concerns and rising global bond yields. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index fell by 2.5% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Palm oil investing through an ESG lens

Does investing in palm oil companies pose a controversy or present an opportunity? Here is a deep-dive analysis of the palm oil sector and the material ESG issues facing it. All in all, we believe that positive ESG changes represent a strong opportunity for palm oil companies, and we look for candidates that strive towards sustainability goals and exceed their ESG targets.

Time to revisit China sovereigns and policy bank bonds

Following a tumultuous 2020 marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, global growth in 2021 is expected to improve on the back of positive vaccine developments and continued government measures. However, the pace of recovery is likely to be uneven among economies and fears of a resurgence of COVID-19 linger. It would be presumptuous to say that we are finally out of the woods.

Japan Equity Monthly - March 2021

We provide our view on the Bank of Japan’s latest policy review, under which the central bank decided to allow long-term rates to fluctuate in a wider band and removed its annual target for ETF purchases. We also assess the barring of foreign spectators from the Olympic games.

Global Investment Committee Outlook: Continue risk-positive

A large majority of our members agreed on a positive scenario in which the global economy mildly outperforms market consensus, while equities continue to rally.

Japan equities poised for further gains along with a turnaround for value

In February 2021, Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average reached JPY 30,000 for the first time in over three decades. We believe that equities will keep rising, and that amid this shift in the broader market Japanese value stocks are on the cusp of a long-awaited turnaround.

Multi-asset monthly - March 2021

The strong start to the year for global equity markets hit its first bump in the road in February. While most countries are still delivering a positive return for the year, markets have retreated from their highs to varying degrees.

Asian equity monthly – February 2021

Asian stocks gained in February as investors upheld optimism about a vaccine-led regional economic recovery. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 1.2% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - February 2021

The potential return of long-muted inflation sparked a meaningful jump in US Treasury (UST) yields in February. Fears of rising price pressures were prompted by the combination of robust domestic data, positive development on the COVID-19 vaccine front and an anticipated increase in US federal spending. Overall, 2-year and 10-year yields ended the month at 0.13% and 1.41%, respectively, about 1.9 basis points (bps) and 34 bps higher compared to end-January.

Credit spreads explained: The devil is in the details

For corporate bond investors one of the most important points of discussion is spreads. Spreads are the industry term for the risk premium an investor aims to earn in the corporate bond market. It is the difference between the yield a bond is promising and the risk-free rate. If spreads are narrowing it is positive for investors as the price of the corporate bond will increase; likewise, a widening leads to a lower bond price.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – February 2021

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -3.58% over the month. The yield curve steepened dramatically as 3-year government bond yields ended the month 1 basis point (bp) higher at 0.12%, while 10-year government bond yields spiked by 79 basis points (bps) to 1.92%. Short-term bank bill rates were marginally higher.

Australian equity monthly - February 2021

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 1.5% during the month. Australian equities underperformed key offshore markets as a strong reporting season was offset by a surge in 10-year bond yields late in the month on the back of inflationary expectations. The global roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and US fiscal stimulus saw the reflation trade take hold.

Japan Equity Monthly - February 2021

We assess the factors that enabled the Nikkei to rise above the 30,000 threshold for the first time since 1990; we also view the recent Robinhood frenzy from a Japanese market perspective.

Future Quality Insights - March 2021

The introduction of the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation in March 2021 will see significant changes to the way asset management is conducted. It includes new disclosure requirements for investment firms to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns and we welcome it with open arms.

Meditation for investment professionals

The investment industry is constantly searching for ways to improve its decision-making processes. Some firms increase their research teams while others move into quantitative fields such as machine learning. Amid this constant search, we focus on an alternative way to enhance the quality of our decisions; mindfulness can make the difference between a rushed, emotional decision and a thoughtful, rational conclusion.

Multi-asset monthly - February 2021

Markets have become choppy, particularly toward month-end, and we expect more of the same given the nearly unrelenting strong run in risk assets since late March 2020 that gained fresh momentum early in November following the US elections.

Asian equity monthly – January 2021

Asian stocks brushed aside uncertainties posed by new COVID-19 variants and climbed higher in January. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 4.1% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - January 2021

The US Treasury (UST) yield curve steepened in January. The prospect of increased federal spending in the US prompted a sharp upward move in UST yields at the start of the year.

Ample upside room for slow recovering J-REITs

In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected a wide variety of Japanese assets, including the real estate investment trust (J-REIT) market. J-REITs have bounced back since, but their recovery has been sluggish compared to the Japanese equity market’s rebound. Despite the slower recovery, we believe J-REITs have ample upside room once the rise gathers pace.

Japan Equity Monthly - January 2021

We look into the potential economic impact of Japan’s attempt to become carbon neutral. We also analyse why Japan’s fiscal condition draws little attention although the country is on course to spend a record amount in its upcoming budget.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – January 2021

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -0.42% over the month. The yield curve steepened as 3-year government bond yields ended the month flat at 0.11%, while 10-year government bond yields rose by 16 basis points (bps) to 1.13%. Short-term bank bill rates were unchanged.

Australian equity monthly - January 2021

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 0.3% during the month. Australian equities outperformed most key offshore markets during the month as equity markets saw a pull-back late in the month. COVID-19 cases passed the 100 million mark globally and many countries continued to struggle with COVID-19 variant strains and vaccine supply issues.

Global Equity Quarterly Q4 2020

Our philosophy is centred on the search for “Future Quality” in a company. Future Quality companies are those that we believe will attain and sustain high returns on investment.

2021 New Zealand Equities Outlook

Worldwide, 2020 was unequivocally dreadful; a year of loss, pain, anxiety and separation that found no worthy adversary in technology or social privilege.

Australian Fixed Income Monthly – December 2020

The Australian bond market (as measured by the Bloomberg AusBond Composite 0+ Yr Index) returned -0.27% over the month. The yield curve steepened as 3-year government bond yields ended the month flat at 0.11%, while 10-year government bond yields rose by 7 basis points (bps) to 0.97%. Short-term bank bill rates were largely unchanged.

Australian equity monthly - December 2020

The S&P/ASX 200 Accumulation Index returned 1.2% during the month. Australian equities lagged key offshore markets during the month. Despite COVID-19 cases rising exponentially in the US and Europe, the start of the vaccine roll-out and further certainty regarding the US election result saw equities move higher.

Multi-asset monthly - January 2021

2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as the year of the pandemic. While in financial market terms it is now tempting to think of COVID-19 as old news, the virus still presents substantial risks to the economic outlook.

Asian equity monthly – December 2020

Asian stocks turned in solid gains in December, buoyed by optimism about a vaccine-led global economic rebound, fresh US fiscal stimulus and robust economic data from China. The MSCI AC Asia ex Japan Index rose 6.8% in US dollar (USD) terms over the month.

Asian Fixed Income Monthly - December 2020

The US Treasury (UST) yield curve steepened slightly in December. The UST 10-year bond yield rose 7.5 basis points (bps) to 0.915%, while the 2-year bond yield fell by 2.7 bps to 0.122%. Concerns in the month revolved around rising COVID-19 cases in Europe, particularly in the UK, and over the uncertainty of fiscal stimulus in the US.

Japan Equity Monthly - December 2020

We look into the potential economic impact of Japan’s attempt to become carbon neutral. We also analyse why Japan’s fiscal condition draws little attention although the country is on course to spend a record amount in its upcoming budget.

Global Strategy Thoughts for 2021

US capitalism was built on large societal divisions, but sometimes such becomes intolerable and the majority of the population revolts. In this case, the virus accentuated the income divide and engendered even greater angst. However, during the past four years, the majority fought back in different ways and ended up fighting each other, while the wealthy prospered more than ever, with high-skill workers reaping gains while lower-skill workers struggled and were often displaced, especially after the virus.

2021 Core Markets Fixed Income Outlook

As European Commission President Ursla von der Leyen announced the free trade agreement with the UK and the EU, she quoted T.S. Eliot: “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” Well, with the end of 2020 we certainly have a new year to look forward to, but it feels we are more like in the middle of this unsettled time than at an end.

2021 Emerging Markets Fixed Income Outlook

Despite the devastating human and economic toll caused by the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe, and in many emerging economies in particular, emerging market debt investors were rewarded with positive returns in 2020, with local currency, external sovereign and corporate bond indices posting returns in excess of 2.5%, 5% and 7%, respectively.

2021 Global Credit Outlook

The last 12 months have seen a significant rotation of topics discussed at investment meetings worldwide. The agenda has moved from macroeconomic data to infection rates, hospitalization rates, vaccinations and other issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Multi Asset Strategies to Capture Growth with Lower Volatility

Disruptive Innovation

The changing shape of China's economy