Tag Archives: emerging markets

Hennessy Funds Outperform With Active Management

More than 70% of actively managed U.S. stock funds lagged their benchmarks over the five years ended June 30, according to the S&P Dow Jones Indices Versus Active (SPIVA) U.S. scorecard.

Hennessy Funds were an exception. Over those five years, nearly 70% of Hennessy’s funds beat their benchmark on an annualized basis.

The SPIVA U.S. scorecard measures performance of actively managed funds against their relevant S&P index in the stock market.

“The past five years (through June 30) have been marked by the rare combination of a remarkable rebound in domestic equity markets and a low-volatility equity environment,” Aye Soe, senior director, Index Research & Design, S&P Dow Jones Indices, wrote in the SPIVA report. Soe added, “This combination has proven difficult for domestic equity managers… across all capitalization and style categories.”

Among U.S. equity funds, 60% of large-cap, 58% of midcap and 73% of small-cap managers underperformed their benchmarks, according to SPIVA.

Managers of international equity fared worse. About 70% of global equity funds, 75% of foreign equity funds, 81% of foreign small-cap funds and 65% of emerging market funds lagged their benchmarks.

Yet of Hennessy Advisors’ 16 funds, which run $5.7 billion, six outperformed their indices for the 12 months ended June 30.

On a five-year annualized basis, 11 funds beat their benchmarks net of fees. Six of the 11 turned over their portfolios just once a year.

“It’s not timing the market, it’s your time in the market,” said Neil Hennessy, the firm’s president, chairman and chief investment officer. “We buy the stocks with a highly disciplined formula, and we hold for a year with no emotions. Then we do it again.”

The two best performers are Hennessy Japan Fund and Hennessy Japan Small Cap Fund.

Over the 12 months that ended June 30, the small-cap fund gained 28.68% vs. the Russell/Nomura Small Cap Index’s 17.21%, says Morningstar. Over the past five years, the fund’s annualized return of 15.13% beat the index’s 9.87% .

The Japan Fund’s 17.54% gain over the past year beat the Russell/Nomura Total Market Index’s 10.86% gain. The fund’s 14.40% five-year average annual return topped the index’s 7.48%.

Among U.S. equity funds, Hennessy Cornerstone Mid Cap 30 gained the most over the 12-month period. Its 31.95% outperformed the Russell MidCap Index’s 26.85%. On a five-year annualized basis, the fund returned 22.32%, beating the index’s 22.07%.

Hennessy Cornerstone Large Growth rose 29.35% over the 12 months ended June 30, exceeding the Russell 1000 Index’s 25.35%. Its five-year average annual return of 19.48% beat the index’s 19.25%.
Hennessy’s best funds over the five years held bonds and stocks. Hennessy Total Return Fund, at 75% equity and 25% bonds, beat the 75/25 Blended DJIA/Treasury Index 15.19% vs. 13.41% on an annualized basis.

Hennessy Core Bond’s 5.42% return outpaced the Barclays U.S. Government/Credit Intermediate Index’s 4.09%.

As for volatility, over the past five years each outperformer beat its bogey four years; the Mid Cap 30 outperformed just three years.

For the full story go to Investor’s Business Daily.

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Schroders Says Buy European Equities

he European economy will continue to be sluggish in 2015 leading to the potential for political unrest, said the experts at Schroders, the giant British asset manager. However, European equities should do well in spite of this.

Meanwhile, Japan should see benefits from a weaker yen, but this will hurt other Asian economies.

The 200-year old firm, which manages $448 billion in 27 countries, presented its market view to the press last week in London.

Keith Wade, Schroder’s chief economist, said falling commodity prices will drive inflation lower, and the declining euro will stop deflationary pressure in the euro zone.

Wade is bearish on the Chinese economy, but he doesn’t expect a hard landing. Meanwhile, emerging markets continue to struggle because of the Chinese slowdown.

“A lot of headwinds are being lifted in Europe and that should help growth,” said European economist Azad Zangana, pointing to the weaker euro. Still, he remains cautious.

Rory Bateman, head of European and U.K. equities, agreed Europe’s economy will be sluggish, but that equities will do well. A weaker euro should help corporations deliver earnings growth between 3% and 5%. Falling oil prices will also help earnings. Bateman expects European financials to post double-digit earnings growth.

Still, with high unemployment across the continent, there is high potential for political unrest. Zangana doesn’t expect major upheavals, but still enough to worry investors.

Bob Jolly, head of global macro, said the high unemployment is increasing the popularity of extreme political parties, with potential flashpoints in Spain, Ireland, Germany and Greece.

Steven Cordell, who manages European equity funds, blamed the European recession Ukraine and Russia. He expects a slow protracted recovery. The German economy is suffering from sanctions against Russian companies and the downturn in China, two major export partners. Cordell agreed that the European banking system is now healthy. He said banks can access cheap capital at a 0.05% marginal lending rate from the European Central Bank.

While the credit market reflects the banks’ improved fundamentals, equities don’t. Cordell said 61% of European companies have better dividend yields than bond yields. This tells him the problem is in bond valuations, not equities. He said it’s a good time to buy European stocks because dividends are at their peak yield in excess of bond yields.

Exporting Inflation

As for Asia, emerging markets economist Craig Botham said while Japan’s policy of devaluing the yen makes Japan’s exports cheaper, Japan is exporting inflation to other parts of the region, like South Korea and China. Botham added that Asia is one of the best-placed regions to benefit from a U.S. recovery, when U.S. consumers buy more electronics and consumer durables.

James Gautrey, portfolio manager for global equities, said that by the end of next year the number of people accessing the Internet from mobile devices in India and China will exceed 1 billion. The way to make money is buy telecoms in India and Internet companies in China.

“I think Alibaba is very underrecognized,” said Gautrey. “Its take rate is 2.3% compared with the 12% done by Amazon.”

Originally published in Investor’s Business Daily.

Equity and Bond ETF Inflow Plays Tag With the Stock Market

With the S&P 500 index posting a 32% gain in 2013, it’s not surprising that exchange traded funds (ETFs) holding U.S. equities, especially large-capitalization stocks, received the biggest net cash inflow last year.

But with U.S. stocks falling in January, 2014 has seen ETF investors fleeing U.S. stocks and buying such categories as bonds and emerging-market stocks. Amid all this activity, equity ETFs tied to nonmarket-cap-weighted indexes have bulked up.

Despite the stock market rally in 2013, net issuance, or net cash inflow, into ETFs fell 3% to $179.87 billion as investors pulled money out of bond funds, according to the Investment Company Institute. In 2012, fixed-income ETFs posted record annual net inflow of $52.32 billion. But net inflow plunged 77% last year to $12.20 billion as fears grew that the Federal Reserve Bank will soon reverse its quantitative-easing strategy and allow interest rates to rise. Bond prices fall when interest rates rise.
When Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen speaks and the markets move, huge sums of money flow between stock and bond ETFs. AP

When Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen speaks and the markets move, huge sums of money flow between stock and bond ETFs. AP View Enlarged Image

“One consistent trend for a while is investors have been repositioning their portfolio for the rising rate environment,” said Michael Iachini, managing director of ETF Research at the Charles Schwab Investment Advisory. “They’ve moved out of Treasuries and are investing in short-term debt instruments from high-yield issuers.”

Equity inflow in 2013 grew 26% to $166.84 billion. Of that total, 62% of inflow, or $104.03 billion, went into ETFs holding domestic equities. The rest went into international funds. But that trend reversed in the first two months of 2014.

Broad-based U.S. equity ETFs recorded net outflow of $21.08 billion. SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), which received the most inflow last year, $16.32 billion, posted net outflow of $19.00 billion in Q1 2014, according to BlackRock, which offers iShares ETFs and tracks industry statistics. More surprising was that bond ETFs saw net inflow of $17.64 billion, more than all of last year combined.

“One thing that happened in the beginning of January was that long-term interest rates came down and stabilized,” said ICI senior economist Shelly Antoniewicz. “It turned out the resolution on the debt ceiling wasn’t going to be an issue and people became more comfortable with the Fed’s policy of reducing the bond buying program.”

One of the biggest reversals in asset flow has been in emerging-market stocks. In 2013, ETPs (exchange traded products) holding emerging-market stocks posted net outflow of $10.92 billion, according to ICI. Things really picked up steam this year. In the first two months of 2014, emerging-market ETPs recorded net outflow of $12.58 billion.

For the full story go to Investor’s Business Daily.

Roubini Says Commodity Super Cycle “Is Over,” but Optimistic on U.S.

For a man nicknamed “Dr. Doom,” economist Nouriel Roubini sounded almost giddy during a recent speech in which he said the reduced possibility of a euro zone breakup has lowered the risk in the global economy.

While the global economy is anemic and still fragile, he said over the next three years growth in the U.S. will be faster than Europe, Japan and China because “the fundamentals of the U.S. are much better in all technologies of the future.”

Roubini, a professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business, received the Dr. Doom moniker after he accurately predicted the 2007 bust in the housing market and the ensuing fiscal crisis in 2008.

But as he stood before a crowd of more than 100 at last month’s Inside Commodities conference, the chairman of Roubini Global Economics said while the U.S. economy remains weak, especially the housing sector, it will get stronger, albeit slowly. Nor does he expect a crash in the bond market.

“How can we create inflation without wage inflation?” he asked the crowd.

He expects the Federal Reserve Bank to begin tapering its policy of quantitative easing and begin raising interest rates by early 2014, which will lead to a gradual strengthening of the dollar. Quantitative easing, or QE3, is the name given to the Fed’s $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program now in its third round. Roubini said by the end of 2017 U.S. interest rates will be as high as 4%.

Yet for the audience of commodity investors, Roubini’s comments were decidedly bad news. He said high interest rates and the stronger dollar will have an inverse relationship to commodity prices.

“The party as we know it is over. The commodity super cycle is over,” said Roubini. “When the dollar gets stronger, everything else being equal, commodity prices begin to fall.” In addition, a slow down in China’s growth will reduce demand for commodities.

The economist said energy prices will gradually lower over time, with oil hitting $90 a barrel, and precious metals will fall too. He predicted the price of gold could fall to $1,000 an ounce by 2015. Rising interest rates and lowered global risk are big reasons for the drop in gold. He also thinks European countries may sell some of their gold stocks to reduce their public debt.

Even though the risk of the European Union splitting has declines, he pointed out that many of fundamental problems there are not resolved. Some countries remain in economic crisis, potential growth is low and the recovery will be “extremely anemic,” between 0% and 1%, which is lethal for the unemployed.

He said the loss of competitiveness in the Euro zone hasn’t been resolved and a fiscal drag remains. The recovery in the Euro zone “will be fragile and always be behind the curve.”

Another big unknown is whether China will have a soft or hard landing. Roubini said China’s growth is unsustainable and its leaders know it. He said the bubble from too much development, housing and investment will fall, along with consumption, and that will bring down growth. He said China’s growth rate at the end of this year will be 7%, sliding to 6% next year and less than 6% in 2015. While not a true hard landing, it will be worse than people expect.

The slowdown in China will cause a drop in demand for commodities which will hurt many emerging market economies. Countries with weakening fundamentals include Indonesia, India, Hungary and Ukraine.

While the prices for all commodities won’t fall for the same reasons, he says geopolitical factors, such as the lowering of tensions with Syria and Iran as reasons for the price of oil to fall. In addition, the balance of supply and demand, will be evened out and prices will decline with new discoveries of oil, as well as the rise of other forms of energy, such as shale. In addition, “the green economy will raise new energy and reduce demand for old energy.”

He recommended that investors be underweight in bonds and overweight in U.S. equities as the economic recovery become more robust and moves into cyclical stocks. He also believes Japan’s economy will succeed under Prime Minister Abe. He said investors should be overweight in advanced economies compared to emerging markets, and that the U.S. and Japan will do better than Europe and United Kingdom.

ING Offers Positive Outlook for 2012

Europe, Shmeurope. If you looking for good news, ING has it.

“Don’t listen to noise coming out of Europe,” said Douglas Cote, chief market strategist of ING, at a press conference Wednesday where the firm offered its outlook for the new year. “The [European Central Bank] will be forced to jump in. I expect an end-of-year rally.”

Paul Zemsky, ING’s chief investment officer of Multi Asset Strategies, says while Europe may suffer a mild recession in 2012, the U.S. will experience tepid growth between 2% and 2.5% With housing weak and the Federal Reserve not raising interest rates until 2013, he says inflation won’t be a problem, staying around 2%. However, he says this growth won’t be enough to bring down the unemployment and if per-capital income remains stagnant, this could cause some social unrest. And while the housing sector has bottomed out, he says it may take another year before the market begins to see a sustained recovery. The main risk to the U.S. economy is the contagion of a European slowdown.

Still companies continue to post record profits, keeping expenses low by not hiring new workers. Zemsky expects the S&P 500 to surge 9% by the year’s end to 1325, and again to 1450 by the end of 2012. “Unless,” he adds, “ Europe blows up.”

You can track the benchmark with the largest ETF in the world, the SPDR S&P 500 (SPY).

“How can you not be in the market with earnings hitting record highs?” asked Cotes, suggesting market fundamentals will continue to be strong in the face of rising global risk. In addition to rising corporate profits, he sees U.S. manufacturing expanding and retail sales at their highest levels after seven consecutive monthly increases. “As far as eye can see we see positive quarters.”

Mid-capitalization stocks are the “sweet spot of the economy,” he says, because they have the financial wherewithal of large-caps and the growth of small-caps.” He also like emerging market stocks and global real estate investment trusts.

For mid-cap stocks take a look at SPDR S&P MidCap 400 ETF (MDY).

As for those global risks, Cote says Europe’s “bank recapitalization plan is an effective fence around the crisis.” In addition, if China begins to experience a slowdown, South Korea and Turkey will pick up the slack.

Really?

The Institute of International Finance said the recapitalization plan has “serious problems” that will hurt economic growth.

Meanwhile, China is one of South Korea’s major trading partners. If China stops buying South Korea is going to have to find a lot of other clients just to break even.

Christine Hurt sellers, ING’s fixed income chief, continued the trend of discounting Europe, “there are a lot of good opportunities, unless you think there will be a massive global recession.” U.S. companies are well prepared for any credit crunch because they have nearly $1.5 trillion in cash on their balance sheets.

She likes high-yield bonds, because spreads are wide, but not consumer cyclicals. She also recommends buying sovereign debt in emerging markets. With emerging markets seeing inflation declining and credit quality increasing people should “take advantage of the shift in liquidity out of Europe.”

She expects the ECB to come save the euro zone, but if you wait until the ECB acts, it will be too late. Because there is very little liquidity in the credit markets, she says you need to buy bonds you are willing to hold for a long time.

I wasn’t very satisfied with their optimistic answers about Europe’s problems. Even though the ECB is the chief monetary authority for counties that use the euro, European Union treaties forbid it from being the lender of last resort for member countries. And as Roubini said last week, that’s not going to change.

Hurtsellers said Italy’s high bond yields are worrisome and if Italy doesn’t get enough tie to restructure, the whole thing could balloon out of control. If that happens, “market’s can create their own chaos and we’ll see more pressure on Germany.”

Zemsky added that while the ECB has remained out of the picture in terms of directly financing governments, if the European banking system seizes up, the ECB would supply quantitative easing. Why did he think that? “Because in 2008, the Fed stepped in to where we never would have expected it before, but they did it to save the world.” True, but the Fed had the power to do that and the ECB doesn’t.

“The ECB will stand behind a bank if they have enough collateral. If that doesn’t happen,” said Zemsky, “that’s the worst case scenario and will lead to a much worse recession of possibly negative 4% gdp growth in Europe.”

That should put our minds to ease.

Busy Week at Global X

It’s been a very busy week for Global X Funds. Over three consecutive days, the New York ETF sponsor launched three ETFs that track the global fishing industry, the food industry and Mexican small-cap stocks.

The Global X Food ETF (EATX) tracks the global food industry as a play on continued growth of gross domestic product in emerging market nations. With income growth giving citizens of the emerging market nations great purchasing power, this has changed the way these people procure, prepare and consume their food. In particular, they have increased their consumption of dairy goods, livestock and packaged foods.

The fund got a nice ticker, EAT with Global X’s signature consenant. And it has an interesting symbol on the Web site, a chocolate chip cookie. So basically this is a play on multinational corporations from the West being able to now sell all those skinny third-worlders the same junk food we eat.

The Global X Food ETF tracks the Solactive Global Food Index a specialty index to track the equities of global companies in the food industry. Chocolate chip maker Nestle is the biggest holding in the fund, with a 4.88% weighting. Hence, the cookie. According to Reuters, Nestle, one of the world’s largest food producers has 40% of its business in emerging markets with sales growing 12% in regions such as China, South Asia and Africa. Yogurt maker Danone is a close second with 4.85% weighting, followed by Brasil Foods, 4.81%; General Mills, 4.75%, and Kraft, 4.68%, as of April 21. More than 48% of the funds holding’s are companies in the U.S., followed by China, 8.4%; Switzerland, 8.1%; Japan, 6.7% and United Kingdom 5.4%. Not including China, emerging markets make up less than 10% of the country holdings.

“8 out of 10 people in the world live in emerging markets. We are starting to see how food companies stand to benefit as the population in emerging economies continues to increase their purchasing power,” said Bruno del Ama, Global X’s chief executive in a written statement.

The fund concept is a clever niche play on the emerging markets. However, there’s definitely a dodgy feel to profiting off of selling to the third world the food we’re discovering could be the cause of many of our health problems. It seems Global X had a similar feeling. Feeling some social responsibility, Global X Management, the fund adviser, will donate any profit it derives from EATX to Action Against Hunger | ACF International, a global humanitarian organization that works to save the lives of malnourished children while providing communities with sustainable access to safe water and long-term solutions to hunger.

Wednesday saw the launch of the Global X Fishing Industry ETF (FISN), the first ETF targeting the global fishing industry, which is comprised of two main components: commercial fishing and aquaculture. Commercial fishing companies are directly involved in the capture of fish from the wild, while aquaculture represents fish farming operations. In addition to more processed foods, citizens of the emerging markets are eating more protein, says Global X. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization China has seen its per-capita fish consumption grow at a dramatic rate of 5.7% per year since 1961. The FAO says an additional 27 million tons of production will be needed to maintain the present level of per-capita consumption in 2030.

The Global X Fishing Industry ETF tracks the Solactive Global Fishing Index, which holds global companies involved in the fishing industry. As of April 29, the three largest components were Cermaq, with 10.8% of the index; Marine Harvest at 10.7% and Toyo Suisan Kaisha at 9.8%. More than 35% of the index is in Norwegian companies, with 22.7% from Japan and 13% from China.

Then Thursday, the firm added to its suite of Latin American-based funds with the launch of the Global X Mexico Small-Cap ETF (MEXS), the first ETF to focus on Mexico’s small-cap companies. Many analysts think small-cap stocks are the best way to play the emerging markets because these comapanies receive the majority of their revenues from the local domestic economy. According to Morgan Stanley, in the fourth quarter of 2010, Mexico’s 4.6% economic growth rate was driven almost entirely by domestic demand. Mexican consumers have a per-capita income twice as large as Brazil’s, says Reuters, which means greater purchasing power and a strong domestic services sector. The country is expected to see economic growth of about 4% this year.

The Global X Mexico Small-Cap ETF tracks the Solactive Mexico Small-Cap Index. As of May 3, consumer discretionary was the largest sector in the index, at 29.4%. Industrials made up 22.6% and consumer staples was 20.5%.

Last month, the company launched the Global X Waste Management ETF (WSTE). The fund tracks the Solactive Global Waste Management Index, which is evenly divided among global companies that deal with the disposal of hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste and recycling.

While the entire Global X family of ETFs is extremely specialized, the funds have garnered a big enough audience to pull in $1.7 billion in assets as of March 31. And the company is getting noticed. In April, Global X tied to win America’s Most Innovative ETF Provider at the Global ETF Awards. It has also won awards from ETF Express, including Most Innovative North American ETF Provider,” “Best Emerging Markets Equity ETF Manager,” and “Best Global (ex-US) Equity ETF Manager.”

If Korea Becomes a Developed Nation

Index providers put a lot of time and effort into deciding whether countries are classified as developed or emerging nations.

The choice, to an outsider, seems simple. The U.S. is a developed country, and China is emerging. But breaking that down into a rule-set is more of a challenge. Each of the major index providers looks at a different set of criteria to make its determination.

With billions of dollars tied to each market, these classification systems matter, and countries lobby index providers hard to convince them that they meet this or that criteria.

For ETF investors, the index provider that matters most in this regard is MSCI, which dominates the market for both developed and emerging market international ETFs. MSCI has an annual review process for evaluating economic development status based on economic development, size and liquidity requirements, and market accessibility criteria. It maintains watch lists of countries that are under consideration for status changes.

In the middle of 2010, Israel jumped from emerging to developed status in the MSCI system, as it finally was judged to fully meet MSCI’s criteria for developed markets. Based on a 2008 consultation report from MSCI, the country’s graduation was primarily held up by concerns about market accessibility, but currently, the only remaining issue of concern, MSCI says, is the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s settlement cycle, which is shorter than is normal for a developed market. The issue is considered a minor one and did not prevent the country’s promotion to developed status.

Among other things, the promotion pushed Israel out of the broadly followed MSCI Emerging Markets Index and into the pre-eminent benchmark for measuring developed international equity performance, the MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australasia and the Far East).

Investors always want to know what will happen to a country’s market when a graduation event takes place. Viewed from a static ETF-only lens, the answer is simple. On April 30, 2010, there was roughly $60 billion in ETF money invested in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index via the Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (VWO) and the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM). Israel had a 4 percent weight in the index, meaning the funds likely had in the area of $2.4 billion invested in Israeli equities at the time. When MSCI promoted Israel, those funds had to sell.

The next countries likely to graduate in the MSCI system may be bigger deals. In both 2009 and 2010, MSCI decided after careful review to leave both South Korea and Taiwan in the emerging markets index. They won’t be up for review again until June 2011. If chosen, they would make the switch in the middle of 2012. If that happens, MSCI would have to decide whether to make the transition over a period of time in a step process, or all at once.

Both countries meet many of the requirements MSCI has of developed nations. Korea satisfies the criteria in economic development, size and liquidity, but it fails on three levels: the lack of an offshore currency market for the Korean won; investor accessibility; and continued anti-competitive practices. With no active offshore currency market, investors need to exchange their money into won during Korean trading hours in order to trade. However, the limited trading hours means Korea’s market is mostly closed when Western markets are open. Meanwhile, a rigid identification system limits investor accessibility in the use of omnibus accounts. For instance, instead of Fidelity Investments having one account, it needs to set up separate accounts for each mutual fund that wants to trade in Korea, creating a very inefficient system. Finally, stock market data continues to be subject to contractual anti-competitive practices as a way to keep trades on the Korean market.

Taiwan also meets the economic development criteria, along with the size and liquidity requirements. However, market participants have said Taiwan’s overall market accessibility is comparable with that of Korea’s. MSCI said the “lack of full convertibility of the new Taiwan Dollar and restrictions associated with the Foreign Institutional Investors identification system were raised as areas where significant progress is still required.”

But if South Korea and Taiwan resolve these issues, the impact will be large.

For the full story go to IndexUniverse.com.