Many investors focus on capital gains while disregarding the significance of dividends. And are wrong in doing so, from my point of view. The total return of a share is after all the sum of capital gains (i.e. rising prices) and dividend income. Income from dividends is of particular relevance for investors with a long-term investment horizon.
US interest rates are on the rise. It took the Federal Reserve Bank (“Fed”) twelve months, after the initial lift-off in December 2015, to make the second move, but for two reasons the odds of more frequent rate hikes over the next twelve months have increased. First, the Fed has turned more hawkish and second, inflation expectations have started ticking higher. Only recently, Chairwoman Yellen warned that “waiting too long to begin moving toward the neutral rate could risk a nasty surprise down the road–either too much inflation, financial instability, or both.”
The year 2016 was full of surprises. It was, for example, the year, when an outsider overcame odds of 5000 to 1 to win the Premier League. It was also the year, when the lyrics of three-minute pop songs were acknowledged to be an art form worth the Literature Nobel. Most importantly, however, politics in the Western hemisphere surprised big time with the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as the next US president.
In our annual press conference I have presented the most relevant topics for the investment year 2017. The most relevant ones are: stronger expected global growth, an increase in inflation and elevated event risks due to political reasons.
Turkey faced a lot of difficulties in 2016 – both on the economic and political side. On the economic front, the first half of the year was a recovery period where most of the macro data showed improvement, political turmoil had diminished and equity market was pretty much on hold while the market participants had positive views in general. A new Prime Minister and a new Governor for the Central Bank was appointed, who started his term with a positive tone with respect to Monetary Policy. On the other hand, in the second half of the year Turkey had to cope with a lot of turmoil.
Alexandre Dimitrov, Senior Fund Manager for the Russia equity fund of Erste Asset Management, sums up his personal impressions of the investor conference in Moscow at the end of October. The picture is surprisingly positive…
Real estate has been in high demand from investors for a while. The keen interest in “concrete gold” has also moved the shares of real estate companies into the limelight of investors.
Equities have recovered from their beginning-of-year slump, and bonds, especially corporate and emerging markets, have recorded impressive gains. The loosening of the monetary environment in China and the continuation of the loose monetary policy in the USA have reduced the risk aversion of investors. In terms of asset allocation, we generally prefer default risk. Equities remain underweighted.
The recovery from the slump on the equity markets we saw at the beginning of the year is coming to an end. The rally is losing steam. The search for new supporting factors in addition to the expansive central bank policies is difficult. In line with the general strategy “sell on highs”, we took the recovery profits generated by the neutral weighting and reduced the equity allocation by about a third.
Earnings are key for equity investors, as also my colleague Harald Egger emphasized in this blog two weeks ago. This basic truth is even more relevant as usual at a time when a multi-year equity bull market has ended and a wobbly global economic backdrop is weighing on market sentiment. In this situation, corporate earnings can provide important clues whether current market turbulences are mostly reflecting top-down anxieties or something more fundamental in the corporate sector is going on, which will put pressure on valuations.