Connect with us

Markets

Emerging market cycle shows that quality wins over long-term

Published

on


The writer is head of global emerging markets at the international business of Federated Hermes

For long-term investors in emerging markets, the current phase in the global economic crisis has echoes of the past. It is not their first rodeo when it comes to dealing with scarred markets recovering from a crisis.

Previous cycles are instructive in how emerging markets react to broader trends and how cheaper value stocks within that equity universe trade compared with more pricey growth shares. Value stocks — such as more cyclical companies — tend to outperform coming out of a crisis. However, in the longer term, quality growth has won out.

The 1997 Asian financial crisis, triggered by a currency crash in Thailand and at which I had a ringside seat, seemed to herald the end of the region’s growth. With contagion still raging, the Russian debt crisis erupted and seemed to announce the chaos of a failing state. In 1997, the emerging-markets benchmark collapsed almost 57 per cent. But it recovered by February 2005.

Value stocks underperformed growth companies by about 27 per cent in the 36 months to March 2000, when fear was ascendant. The tables then turned decisively: value outperformed by 65 per cent from March 2000 to December 2008. China’s entry into the World Trade Organization created unprecedented demand for raw materials. These crises abated with support from the developed world and its multilateral institutions. The pattern held until 2008.

On September 15 of that year, when Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, I watched as bids vanished from my screen and share prices of the world’s best companies dived into the abyss. This time, the developed world caused the strife. In a clear debunking of the theory that developing economies had decoupled from more developed counterparts, emerging markets fell by about 61 per cent and took 36 months to recover. In this period, value edged ahead of growth by about 5.7 per cent.

But it has since been vanquished: from January 2012 to date, growth has outperformed by 80 per cent. The so-called “taper tantrum”, when rising US bond yields spooked the more fragile emerging markets, encouraged investors to look for less cyclical investments and they jumped on Alibaba’s initial public offering, and fast-growing social networks.

Line chart of Value stocks relative to Growth stocks in the MSCI Emerging Markets index showing Cheaper EM value stocks have tended to perform best in post-crisis periods

Most big emerging economies went into the 2008 financial crisis with current accounts and foreign-exchange reserves in surplus and dollar liabilities better matched with dollar assets than in the past. There were notable exceptions, but it was evident that the emerging world was maturing.

China, in conjunction with the world’s central banks, stimulated enough demand to resurrect the global markets and economy. In subsequent years, structural changes in many emerging economies — from economic liberalisation in China to digitisation across the board — showed that the “emerging” label was outdated.

In emerging markets and the S&P 500 alike, intellectual property has become the new quality investment. Companies with such assets outnumber those surviving from earlier days. Energy and materials companies in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index have shrunk from 37 per cent before the financial crisis to less than 10 per cent now. The technology sector currently commands the same benchmark weighting in emerging markets as in its S&P 500 counterpart of more than 30 per cent.

There are sound reasons to invest now, especially on a cyclical basis. Indicators of economic activity such as purchasing managers’ indices are recovering, the threat of trade wars with the US has faded and the export and the tourism sectors should bounce back as vaccines are distributed. An Asian free-trade zone is on the horizon, building on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Investment metrics also tell an attractive story. Emerging markets trade at a 20 per cent discount to developed ones on a sector-adjusted basis, close to a 20-year low. A weaker dollar should allow emerging-market currencies to appreciate, along with equity markets, buoyed by relief on a collective $5.2tn debt burden. A lower dollar would also benefit commodity exporters.

But investors should temper their enthusiasm for 2021 with the knowledge that debt levels, demographics and investment for a more sustainable economic system may constrain profits over the medium term.

Slower macroeconomic expansion will ensure that quality growth retains a premium. In the short term, value will have its day in the sun. But for investors with a longer time horizon, quality will remain king.



Source link

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Markets

US stocks rise as investors weigh strong earnings against spread of Delta variant

Published

on

By


Equities updates

Stocks on Wall Street edged higher on Tuesday as strong company earnings and economic data offset worries about the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and fears over another regulatory clampdown from Beijing.

The blue-chip S&P 500 was up 0.7 per cent by mid-afternoon in New York, its best performance in more than a week. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.3 per cent.

Investor sentiment was lifted by June data for US factory orders, which typically feed into estimates of gross domestic product. New orders for goods rose 1.5 per cent on the month before, well above the consensus estimate of 1 per cent.

In Europe, another wave of strong earnings results helped propel the continent’s stocks to a fresh record. The region-wide Stoxx 600 index rose 0.2 per cent after Paris-based bank Société Générale and London-listed lender Standard Chartered reported profits that beat analysts’ expectations.

London’s energy-leaning FTSE 100 index rose 0.4 per cent, aided by oil major BP, which rallied after announcing a $1.4bn share buyback programme and an increase in its dividend.

Line chart of Stoxx Europe 600 index showing Strong earnings help propel European shares to record high

On both sides of the Atlantic, earnings have been strong. More than halfway through the US reporting season, 86 per cent of companies have topped expectations on profits, while in Europe 55 per cent have outperformed so far, according to data from FactSet and Morgan Stanley.

“The continued healthy earnings outlook is a key driver of our view that the equity bull market remains on solid footing,” analysts at UBS Wealth Management wrote in a note. Such a growth rate is, however, “flattered by depressed levels in the year-ago period,” they said. “But the results are still impressive compared with pre-pandemic earnings.”

Oil slipped in a choppy session as the global benchmark Brent crude fell 0.7 per cent to $72.37 a barrel on fears that the spread of the Delta variant could depress demand for fuel.

The seven-day rolling average for new coronavirus cases in the US, the world’s largest economy, have hit nearly 85,000 from about 13,000 a month ago, according to the Financial Times coronavirus tracker. Similar trends have taken hold in other countries as well as authorities race to vaccinate larger swaths of their populations.

A log-scale line chart of seven-day rolling average of newcases showing that US coronavirus case counts rise from just over 10,000 in mid-June to nearly 100,000 by early August

In Asia, investors were again focused on regulation after Chinese state media criticised the online video gaming industry, calling it “spiritual opium”. Shares in Tencent, the Chinese internet group, fell 6 per cent before announcing it would implement new restrictions for minors on its gaming platform. NetEase and XD, two rivals, dropped 7.8 per cent and 8.1 per cent, respectively.

The Hang Seng Tech index, which includes Tencent and its peers, dropped 1.5 per cent, lagging behind the wider Hong Kong bourse, which slipped 0.2 per cent. The CSI 300 index of large Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed stocks was flat.

Unhedged — Markets, finance and strong opinion

Robert Armstrong dissects the most important market trends and discusses how Wall Street’s best minds respond to them. Sign up here to get the newsletter sent straight to your inbox every weekday



Source link

Continue Reading

Markets

Why it might be good for China if foreign investors are wary

Published

on

By


Chinese economy updates

The writer is a finance professor at Peking University and a senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy

The chaos in Chinese stock markets last week was exacerbated by foreign investors selling Chinese shares, leaving Beijing’s regulators scrambling to regain their confidence while they tried to stabilise domestic markets. But if foreign funds become more cautious about investing in Chinese stocks, this may in fact be a good thing for China.

In the past two years, inflows into China have soared by more than $30bn a month. This is partly because of a $10bn-a-month increase in the country’s monthly trade surplus and a $20bn-a-month rise in financial inflows. The trend is expected to continue. Although Beijing has an excess of domestic savings, it has opened up its financial markets in recent years to unfettered foreign inflows. This is mainly to gain international prestige for those markets and to promote global use of the renminbi.

But there is a price for this prestige. As long as it refuses to reimpose capital controls — something that would undermine many years of gradual opening up — Beijing can only adjust to these inflows in three ways. Each brings its own cost that is magnified as foreign inflows increase.

One way is to allow rising foreign demand for the renminbi to push up its value. The problem, of course, is that this would undermine China’s export sector and would encourage further inflows, which would in turn push China’s huge trade surplus into deficit. If this happened, China would have to reduce the total amount of stuff it produces (and so reduce gross domestic product growth).

The second way is for China to intervene to stabilise the renminbi’s value. During the past four years China’s currency intervention has occurred not directly through the People’s Bank of China but indirectly through the state banks. They have accumulated more than $1tn of net foreign assets, mostly in the past two years.

Huge currency intervention, however, is incompatible with domestic monetary control because China must create the renminbi with which it purchases foreign currency. The consequence, as the PBoC has already warned several times this year, would be a too-rapid expansion of domestic credit and the worsening of domestic asset bubbles. 

Many readers will recognise that these are simply versions of the central bank trilemma: if China wants open capital markets, it must give up control either of the currency or of the domestic money supply. There is, however, a third way Beijing can react to these inflows, and that is by encouraging Chinese to invest more abroad, so that net inflows are reduced by higher outflows.

And this is exactly what the regulators have been trying to do. Since October of last year they have implemented a series of policies to encourage Chinese to invest more abroad, not just institutional investors and businesses but also households.

But even if these policies were successful (and so far they haven’t been), this would bring its own set of risks. In this case, foreign institutional investors bringing hot money into liquid Chinese securities are balanced by various Chinese entities investing abroad in a variety of assets for a range of purposes.

This would leave China with a classic developing-country problem: a mismatched international balance sheet. This raises the risk that foreign investors in China could suddenly exit at a time when Chinese investors are unwilling — or unable — to repatriate their foreign investments quickly enough. We’ve seen this many times before: a rickety financial system held together by the moral hazard of state support is forced to adjust to a surge in hot-money inflows, but cannot adjust quickly enough when these turn into outflows.

As long as Beijing wants to maintain open capital markets, it can only respond to inflows with some combination of the three: a disruptive appreciation in the currency, a too-rapid rise in domestic money and credit, or a risky international balance sheet. There are no other options.

That is why the current stock market turmoil may be a blessing in disguise. To the extent that it makes foreign investors more cautious about rushing into Chinese securities, it will reduce foreign hot-money inflows and so relieve pressure on the financial authorities to choose among these three bad options.

Until it substantially cleans up and transforms its financial system, in other words, China’s regulators should be more worried by too much foreign buying of its stocks and bonds than by too little.



Source link

Continue Reading

Markets

Square to acquire Afterpay for $29bn as ‘buy now, pay later’ booms

Published

on

By


Square Inc updates

Payments company Square has reached a deal to acquire Australian “buy now, pay later” provider Afterpay in a $29bn all-stock transaction that would be the largest takeover in Australian history.

Square, whose chief executive Jack Dorsey is also Twitter’s CEO, is offering Afterpay shareholders 0.375 shares of Square stock for every share they own — a 30 per cent premium based on the most recent closing prices for both companies.

Melbourne-based Afterpay allows retailers to offer customers the option of paying for products in four instalments without interest if the payments are made on time.

The deal’s size would exceed the record set by Unibail-Rodamco’s takeover of shopping centre group Westfield at an enterprise value of $24.7bn in 2017.

The transaction, which was announced in a joint statement from the companies on Monday, is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

Afterpay said its 16m users regard the service as a more responsible way to borrow than using a credit card. Merchants pay Afterpay a fixed fee, plus a percentage of each order.

The deal underscored the huge appetite for buy now, pay later providers, which have boomed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Square and Afterpay have a shared purpose,” said Dorsey. “We built our business to make the financial system more fair, accessible, and inclusive, and Afterpay has built a trusted brand aligned with those principles.”

Adoption of buy now, pay later services had tripled by early this year compared with pre-pandemic volumes, according to data from Adobe Analytics, and were particularly popular with younger consumers.

Rivalling Afterpay is Sweden’s Klarna, which doubled its valuation in three months to $45.6bn, after receiving investment from SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2 in June. PayPal offers its own service, Pay in 4, while it was reported last month that Apple was looking to partner with Goldman Sachs to offer buy now, pay later facilities to Apple Pay users.

Steven Ng, a portfolio manager at Afterpay investor Ophir Asset Management, said the deal validated the buy, now pay later business model and could be the catalyst for mergers activity in the sector. “Given the tie-up with Square, it could kick off a round of consolidation with other payment providers where buy now, pay later becomes another payment method offered to their customers,” he said.

Over the past two years Afterpay has expanded rapidly in the US and Europe, which now account for more than three-quarters of its 16.3m active customers and a third of merchants on its platform. Afterpay said its services are used by more than 100,000 merchants across the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand as well as in the UK, France, Italy and Spain, where it is known as Clearpay.

Square intends to offer the facility to its merchants and users of its Cash App, a fast money transfer service popular with small businesses and a competitor to PayPal’s Venmo.

“It’s an expensive purchase, but the buy now, pay later market is growing very rapidly and it makes a lot of sense for Square to have a solid stake in it,” said retail analyst Neil Saunders.

“For some, especially younger generations, buy now, pay later is a favoured form of credit. Afterpay has already had some success with its US expansion, but Square will be able to accelerate that by integrating it into its platforms and payment infrastructure — that’s probably one of the justifications for the relatively toppy price tag of the deal.”

Square handled $42.8bn in payments in the second quarter, with Cash App transactions making up about 10 per cent, according to figures released on Sunday. The company posted a $204m profit on revenues of $4.7bn.

Once the acquisition is completed, Afterpay shareholders will own about 18.5 per cent of Square, the companies said. The deal has been approved by both companies’ boards of directors but will also need to be backed by Afterpay shareholders.

As part of the deal, Square will establish a secondary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange to provide Afterpay shareholders with an option to receive Square shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange or the ASX. Square may elect to pay 1 per cent of the purchase price in cash.

Weekly newsletter

For the latest news and views on fintech from the FT’s network of correspondents around the world, sign up to our weekly newsletter #fintechFT

Sign up here with one click



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending