Rudi's View | Mar 17 2022
This story features BHP GROUP LIMITED, and other companies. For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BHP
In this week's Weekly Insights:
-Double Your Protection
-Conviction Calls & (More) Post-Reporting Season Notes
By Rudi Filapek-Vandyck, Editor FNArena
Double Your Protection
It happened last week.
"How come so many investors got wiped out during the GFC?", said one trader. "I don't understand. Surely everyone has a pain threshold. Surely at some point every investor goes 'enough is enough'?"
Yeah. If only it were that simple. If only he was there, he wouldn't be asking the question.
The problem, I responded, is that bear markets are a process. Despite assurances from some chartists and the usual Cassandras, nobody really knew what exactly was the problem, how long it would take and how bad things would turn out.
It's only human to start tapping into the internal optimist once that first -10%-20% is on the boards. After all, history shows market corrections of -10% are not that unusual, and even -15% or -20% is simply par for the course. It happens. And as everyone who has been in the market long enough knows, such pullbacks are healthy; they create buying opportunities.
Hence, you don't sell when your portfolio has been shaken and rattled. It is but a flesh wound! You hope you have enough cash on the sideline and you start planning for your next allocations. Alternatively, you keep on cashing in the dividends and tell yourself it's now a waiting game. Better times, surely as day follows night, shall arrive.
Again, history backs up that statement. Every single disaster, every single 'lost decade', every bear market has ultimately created a fertile environment for the next bull market. There's simply no denying the fact. But during the GFC investors did not get wiped out because eventually all the world's problems -and they were severe at the time- got resolved and shares embarked on their next leg upwards.
Investors got wiped out because of what happened in between. Share market indices, on average, lost half of their peak-2007 value. That's down -50%. And the process took about 16-17 months to complete (if we don't include the August panic sell-off in 2007).
In between we had savage sell-offs, rallies, a long pause, more sell-offs and rallies, and ultimately the selling wouldn't stop until everybody was exhausted, desperate, desolate, and utterly destroyed; at the very least mentally.
The Bottom Line And The Damage Done
Back in the days, FNArena had been on the bearish side since mid-2007. We had cautioned about the banks, persistently and relentlessly, next about the bubble in oil and then warned about the commodities sell-off that would pull BHP Group ((BHP)) shares to $20 (from $50 in late 2007).
My biggest frustration, however, was that we still experienced the loss of many a subscriber once the bear market had ended.
The loss of -50% and more was simply too much to bear for many.
Sure, they read the warnings, but many other experts stuck with optimism, and there always are plenty of reasons not to sell: capital gains taxes (if you own the shares for a long time) are but one of them. The need for regular income could be another reason.
The bottom line is: if a professional investor gets it wrong, he/she might lose their job or a few clients, but if you are managing your own money, the consequences of staying the course while keeping your fingers crossed and hope for a smooth transition can be no less than devastating.
Or as one US expert reminded his clientele recently:
-To compensate for a loss of -40% you need a subsequent gain of 67% just to square up again
-To compensate for a loss of -50% the total portfolio needs to double (up 100%)
-To compensate for a loss of -75% the subsequent gain needs to be 300%
Let there be no misunderstanding: I am by no means making the forecast that the current bear market won't end until equity indices are down by -40% or more, but it is my observation most investors, and market commentators, are underestimating the challenges and headwinds that are rapidly building.
Are Recent Experiences Relevant?
The general comfort with this year's volatility is probably related to the fact that recent experiences with market meltdowns have been rather brief and not too painful in the bigger scheme of things. Let's face it: for a number of weeks the situation in 2020 looked awful, but the share market outcome was everything but.
The way our human brains operate, we draw more confidence from such events, as we do from stabilising or rising share prices. Risk only ever seems tangible and real when asset prices are melting down. This is, of course, all about perception.
One cohort of market participants that has received a very harsh lesson in 2022 are the many young, gung-ho investors who joined in with full gusto following the initial covid-meltdown in 2020. All they ever knew was 'buy the dip', and if a share price dips lower, you simply buy more!
Who knew investing was that simple.
The story since late last year, which started mid-year in the US, has been that former market darlings and popular new era-stocks have simply kept sliding south. Eventually, of course, there's no money left to allocate into the next 'dip'.
We must now fear that many of those investors -currently in hibernation, licking their wounds- will not return anytime soon, if ever, as the capital destruction has been nothing but ginormous with popular stocks deflating by -60%, -70%, -80%, and more.
In Australia, we have only seen a smidgen of this process, but some of the local covid-beneficiaries and technology stocks have been hit just as hard. Kogan ((KGN)) used to be a $20 stock; it lost about -75% since. The damage from the January 2021 peak has been similar for shares in Redbubble ((RBL)).
And if you got carried away with the momentum in Mesoblast ((MSB)) shares back in 2020 and hung on in the hope things might get better, you're essentially looking at the same proposition.
My own anecdotal observations were confirmed last week by Gemma Dale, Director of SMSF and Investor Behaviour at NABtrade. Many of the younger investors have burned their fingers, badly (as we all knew would happen eventually) while many among the older investors are now happily loading up on energy and commodity stocks.
Bring it on! Happy Days!
No More Heroes
Other investors, I can add from personal insights and from questions received here at FNArena, are buying the dip in stocks they thought they could never afford.
My worry is these investors are essentially applying the same buy the dip strategy as the youngies were doing, just in a slightly different format. Are they the next ones to receive a harsh lesson?
This is what my story today is about: it's not a given, but it most definitely is a genuine possibility.
Today, I think, is not a time to allocate extra funds into the share market. At the very least, it seems but prudent to account for rising risks. If you do ride the momentum in commodities, do it with the understanding that it won't last. Think about what happened in 2008.
If you are looking to buy industrials and financials at beaten-down prices, be patient – be patient for longer. Don't automatically assume a share price that already has been beaten-up cannot go much lower.
Remember that old joke? What's a share price that has fallen by -90%? That's a stock that first fell by -80%, and then halved in price.
Today's prime worry is the military conflict and international sanctions following Russia's entrance into Ukraine might be obfuscating the real challenge facing financial markets in 2022. That challenge relates to the fact the Federal Reserve, and potentially other central banks too, is now forced to tighten, and to continue tightening as inflation is sticking around in high numbers, threatening to grow roots and stick around for longer.
The fact the Federal Reserve is also hinting at running down its balance sheet, effectively starting to sell fixed income assets, as Jay Powell channels Paul Volcker in the 1980s, should be very frightening indeed!
It appears the investment community has too easily forgotten that the bear market of late 2018 only ceased when the Federal Reserve announced it would stop tightening. Back in 2020 it was another (massive) liquidity injection combined with (massive) government stimulus and a new horde of young investors that turned an ugly situation into a brief blip in an ongoing uptrend.
None of these ex-machinas are likely to be around later this year. Sure, the Federal Reserve might ultimately reverse course, but it'll only happen after another market meltdown, and if inflation is still high, one wonders whether that is actually still good news?
Global growth is decelerating. This is nothing unusual. But what is unusual is the Federal Reserve will be tightening in a slowing environment, and sticky, high inflation is likely to keep the pace of tightening up, while also creating a barrier to pause. Bond markets have started to worry already this combination might push the US economy into a recession – potentially, but most certainly into slower growth.
How much slower?
We don't actually need to see negative growth for things to get a lot worse in equity markets. Merely the expectation this could be the outcome is probably sufficient. The next shoe to drop, most likely, are earnings expectations. Last year, many an investor became worried way too soon as continuously rising earnings forecasts provided solid support. Won't be long, I worry, that dynamic starts moving into reverse.
The yield difference between US 2-year and 10-year Treasuries is shrinking with the difference in March less than 0.30%. For the yield to be inverted, widely seen as a market signal the next economic recession is in the making, the yield on the 2-year should exceed that of the 10-year. This is not a perfect indicator. Nothing is. But investors will be watching this closely.
The FNArena/Vested Equities All-Weather Model Portfolio, mandate for which is about investing in Quality long-term, solid and dependable growers and thus no commodities are included, has taken the view that accumulating risks are a lot higher than what is currently suggested by day-to-day price action.
I think investors at the very least should start thinking about a recession-like environment and whether the companies they own might thrive, cope or falter under the pressures of slower growth and a reluctant consumer.
Names like Coles ((COL)), Woolworths ((WOW)) and Metcash ((MTS)) should once again be on the radar, if they aren't in the portfolio already, as well as Amcor ((AMC)), Orora ((ORA)), CSL ((CSL)) and ResMed ((RMD)), to name but a few.
For what it's worth, the All-Weather Model Portfolio is using the current rally in the local share market to double its allocation to cash; to 40% from circa 20% prior.
Because 2022 is lot riskier than the prior two years, as well as most years before that, and not simply because the opening months have already injected so much volatility.
(Just to throw in one extra piece of risk in the mix: economists at ANZ Bank highlighted on Monday morning China is experiencing the largest wave of covid since the end of national lockdown in March 2020.)
Conviction Calls & (More) Post-Reporting Season Notes
Portfolio managers at stockbroker Morgans remain happy to be 100% invested in this market, though they make a point that the focus is on potentially further upgrading the quality of the portfolio, while a defensive bias is seen as a positive in the present environment.
Companies in the Core Model Portfolio believed to offer a defensive earnings profile include Transurban ((TCL)) and APA Group ((APA)).
The broker's Growth Model Portfolio has seen a number of changes recently. Shares in TPG Telecom ((TPG)) were sold. Holdings in GQG Partners ((GQG)), Aristocrat Leisure ((ALL)) and Reliance Worldwide ((RWC)) have all been increased.
Strategists at UBS do not see true stagflation on the horizon, but they nevertheless believe investors should be prepared and at the very least know what works best in case we do end up with stagflation later in the year or in 2023.
Their historic data analysis found industries that outperformed through stagflationary pressures, pretty much in a consistent way across regions, are Staples, Healthcare, and Real Estate.
Sectors that underperformed in Stagflation differed significantly across regions. Technology suffered the most in the US, Financials in Europe, while in Emerging Markets it was Materials and Energy. I think Australia would naturally be linked-in with the latter.
For those investors looking to play the momentum for resource stocks on the ASX, Macquarie's favourites are Mineral Resources ((MIN)), Iluka Resources ((ILU)) and Coronado Global Resources ((CRN)) among bulk miners, Pilbara Minerals ((PLS)) for lithium, Sandfire Resources ((SFR)) for exposure to copper, Panoramic Resources ((PAN)) for nickel, and Chalice Mining ((CHN)) among exploration plays.
Macquarie also most prefers Northern Star Resources ((NST)) among local producers, as well as Silver Lake Resources ((SLR)) and Bellevue Gold ((BGL)).
Damien Boey, Chief Macro Strategist, Barrenjoey: "We remain concerned about slowdown risks. Within equities, we think that there is more defensiveness in quality than there is in value at this juncture given that multiple dispersion has come off significantly in the past few months and given that value exposures typically have significant financial and operational leverage to the cycle."
Post the February reporting season, Ord Minnett has reshuffled its preferences among Australia's retailers. Most preferred are now JB Hi-Fi ((JBH)) and Premier Investments ((PMV)) -due to superior online capabilities- followed by Metcash ((MTS)) and Super Retail ((SUL)).
Least liked are Coles ((COL)) and Harvey Norman ((HVN)).
Consumer sector colleague analysts at Macquarie, however, have adopted a different angle. They are concerned on the outlook for inflation in Australia and the corresponding upward pressure on interest rates.
Macquarie, thus, has a preference for Staples, with low PE staples like Coles and Metcash preferred over higher PE staples like Woolworths ((WOW)) and Endeavour Group ((EDV)). Within Discretionary retail Macquarie again prefers low PE consumer names of JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman over higher PE names such as Wesfarmers ((WES)).
Ord Minnett also nominated what it thought were the stand-out financial results from the February reporting season: Aussie Broadband ((ABB)), CSL ((CSL)), BHP Group ((BHP)), Breville Group ((BRG)), Cleanaway Waste Management ((CWY)), Goodman Group ((GMG)), Hotel Property Investments ((HPI)), JB Hi-Fi, NextDC ((NXT)), Qube Holdings ((QUB)), Santos ((STO)), Seek ((SEK)), South32 ((S32)), Steadfast Group ((SDF)), Uniti Group ((UWL)), and Woodside Petroleum ((WPL)).
Shaw and Partners most favoured software companies on the ASX has now accumulated to five: Mach7 Technologies ((M7T)), Whispir ((WSP)), Gentrack Group ((GTK)), Keypath Education International ((KED)), and Elmo Software ((ELO)).
Citi analysts' key picks for investors looking to add technology to their portfolio post-February are Xero ((XRO)), Megaport ((MP1)) and Hub24 ((HUB)).
Post-February, UBS analyst Tim Plumbe has expressed his key picks for ASX-listed small cap stocks, which becomes Emerging Companies in UBS lingo.
Those key picks are Adairs ((ADH)), Breville Group, BWX Ltd ((BWX)), Corporate Travel Management ((CTD)), EML Payments ((EML)), GUD Holdings ((GUD)), Kelsian Group ((KLS)), Nitro Software ((NTO)), NRW Holdings ((NWH)), NextDC and Siteminder ((SDR)).
A few names didn't make the selection, but they are still liked nevertheless: Bapcor ((BAP)), Clover Corp ((CLV)), G8 Education ((GEM)), Infomedia ((IFM)), Megaport and Webjet ((WEB)).
Specifically for technology exposure, UBS has both Nitro Software and Siteminder on position number one, followed by Megaport.
Wilsons list of Conviction Calls has been enlarged through the inclusion of Ridley Corp ((RIC)).
Other names that have kept their membership are ARB Corp ((ARB)), Collins Foods ((CKF)), Aroa Biosurgery ((ARX)), Immutep ((IMM)), ReadyTech Holdings ((RDY)), Plenti ((PLT)), and City Chic Collective ((CCX)).
(This story was written on Monday 14th March, 2022. It was published on the day in the form of an email to paying subscribers, and again on Thursday as a story on the website).
(Do note that, in line with all my analyses, appearances and presentations, all of the above names and calculations are provided for educational purposes only. Investors should always consult with their licensed investment advisor first, before making any decisions. All views are mine and not by association FNArena's – see disclaimer on the website.
In addition, since FNArena runs a Model Portfolio based upon my research on All-Weather Performers it is more than likely that stocks mentioned are included in this Model Portfolio. For all questions about this: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the direct messaging system on the website).
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Click to view our Glossary of Financial Terms
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ABB - AUSSIE BROADBAND LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ADH - ADAIRS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ALL - ARISTOCRAT LEISURE LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: AMC - AMCOR PLC
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: APA - APA GROUP
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ARB - ARB CORPORATION LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ARX - AROA BIOSURGERY LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BAP - BAPCOR LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BGL - BELLEVUE GOLD LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BHP - BHP GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BRG - BREVILLE GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: BWX - BWX LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CCX - CITY CHIC COLLECTIVE LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CHN - CHALICE MINING LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CKF - COLLINS FOODS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CLV - CLOVER CORPORATION LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: COL - COLES GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CRN - CORONADO GLOBAL RESOURCES INC
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CSL - CSL LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CTD - CORPORATE TRAVEL MANAGEMENT LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: CWY - CLEANAWAY WASTE MANAGEMENT LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: EDV - ENDEAVOUR GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ELO - ELMO SOFTWARE LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: EML - EML PAYMENTS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: GEM - G8 EDUCATION LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: GMG - GOODMAN GROUP
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: GQG - GQG PARTNERS INC
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: GTK - GENTRACK GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: GUD - G.U.D. HOLDINGS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: HPI - HOTEL PROPERTY INVESTMENTS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: HUB - HUB24 LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: HVN - HARVEY NORMAN HOLDINGS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: IFM - INFOMEDIA LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ILU - ILUKA RESOURCES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: IMM - IMMUTEP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: JBH - JB HI-FI LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: KED - KEYPATH EDUCATION INTERNATIONAL INC
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: KGN - KOGAN.COM LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: KLS - KELSIAN GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: M7T - MACH7 TECHNOLOGIES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: MIN - MINERAL RESOURCES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: MP1 - MEGAPORT LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: MSB - MESOBLAST LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: MTS - METCASH LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: NST - NORTHERN STAR RESOURCES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: NTO - NITRO SOFTWARE LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: NWH - NRW HOLDINGS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: NXT - NEXTDC LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: ORA - ORORA LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: PAN - PANORAMIC RESOURCES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: PLS - PILBARA MINERALS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: PLT - PLENTI GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: PMV - PREMIER INVESTMENTS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: QUB - QUBE HOLDINGS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: RBL - REDBUBBLE LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: RDY - READYTECH HOLDINGS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: RIC - RIDLEY CORPORATION LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: RMD - RESMED INC
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: RWC - RELIANCE WORLDWIDE CORP. LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: S32 - SOUTH32 LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SDF - STEADFAST GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SDR - SITEMINDER LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SEK - SEEK LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SFR - SANDFIRE RESOURCES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SLR - SILVER LAKE RESOURCES LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: STO - SANTOS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: SUL - SUPER RETAIL GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: TCL - TRANSURBAN GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: TPG - TPG TELECOM LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: UWL - UNITI GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: WEB - WEBJET LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: WES - WESFARMERS LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: WOW - WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: WSP - WHISPIR LIMITED
For more info SHARE ANALYSIS: XRO - XERO LIMITED