A Strategy for Uncertain Times

July 25th, 2016

The world is in a period of low growth and political uncertainty (Brexit, Hung Parliaments, Donald Trump etc). Property as an investment class has performed well in this environment and is expected to continue to do so with lower interest rates and the largesse of central banks continuing to pour fuel on the fire. Quality, as an investment style, is also expected to outperform during periods of uncertainty see our note  Investment Philosophies. During turbulent times, investor’s risk appetite reduces sharply and companies that were previously perceived to be “boring” become favoured by investors for their stable earnings, dividends and conservative balance sheets.

Currently the official cash rate in Australia is 1.75% and we are expecting a further cut in August 2016 to 1.5%. This will likely push the benchmark 1 year term deposit rate below 2%, which will further ratchet up the pressure on retirees requiring income that don’t enjoy baked beans on toast with the frequency that small children do! In this piece we are going to look at the buy-write strategy of enhancing income in a portfolio and how this strategy performs during periods of low growth and uncertainty.

Read more here.

Mid-Season Report Card

July 8th, 2016

The last six months have been stressful for Australian equity investors and despite the ASX200 delivering a total return of 1.1% (capital appreciation plus dividends), it has been an emotional rollercoaster. December’s Santa Claus rally turned into a brutal hangover in the New Year, similar to that given by excessive consumption of four litre cask white wine from Southern Queensland. The market then staged a recovery in March and May, before falling in a heap in June due to the surprising outcome of UK vote to leave the European Union.

In this week’s piece we are going to look at what has happened over the first half of the year, some key themes and analyse the catalysts that contributed to the top and bottom performers.

Read more here.

Brexit ……. Smexit!!

June 30th, 2016

The last five days have been stressful for Australian fund managers with Britain both voting to withdraw from the European Union and England handing the Wallabies an ignominious series defeat. These two factors have wiped A$42 billion off the market capitalisation of the ASX. Whilst fear and uncertainty have dominated the animal spirits of the market, it is hard to make the case that Brexit is another GFC for Australian equities and indeed that a recession in the United Kingdom will have a dramatic impact on the profits of Australian listed companies. In this week’s piece we are going to look at the actual profits earned by ASX 200 companies in the United Kingdom and the quantum that is actually at risk.

Australian Profits coming from the UK

In 2015, the 200 companies that comprise the ASX 200 delivered a net operating profit after tax of A$104 billion and of this A$2.4 billion, or 2.4% was derived from operations or exports to the UK. To put this in context, the fall in value of the ASX 200 from Friday 24th to Wednesday 29th June was almost 18 times the entire profits earned in the UK by large Australian listed companies last year.

Read more here.

Brexit ‘isn’t the GFC

June 28th, 2016

Written by VANESSA DESLOIRES of The  Australian Financial Review.

Hugh Dive, portfolio manager at Aurora Funds Management, said the direct impact on Australia’s big four banks would be minimal, apart from some selling on negative sentiment in the sector.

Read more here.


Earnings Shenanigans …. are your profits being manipulated?

June 27th, 2016

In just over a month’s time investors will be bombarded with profit results announcements from listed companies for the financial year ending in June. In the financial press and from the research analysts in the investment banks there is rarely much critical analysis of the figures presented due to the vast number of companies required to report their results in a four week period. As discussed in the piece Confession Season, company management teams are always under pressure to deliver results in line or above market expectations or face the negative share price reactions. This gives management, in particular the chief financial officer (CFO), strong incentives to present the most positive picture possible of a company’s financial health.

In this week’s piece we are going to look at what a company can do to dress up their financial results and what tricks to look for when Australian corporates release their June profit results. Not necessarily the most exiting topic, but something fundamental to think about as the ASX200 oscillates wildly on Brexit Day!

Read more here.

Investors can make money from profit downgrades

June 21st, 2016

Written by RICHARD HEMMING of The Australian

“Hugh Dive manages a “long short” hedge fund for Aurora Funds, which can short sell up to 25 per cent of the value of the stocks it owns. Recently he has had success shorting Flight Centre, Ansell, Orica, Spotless and ALS.”

Read more here.



Heart Racing, Feeling Sick …. It’s Confession Season

June 14th, 2016

Since the GFC one of most unpleasant feelings for an analyst or fund manager is when a company held in their portfolio posts a notice on the ASX of a “Trading Update”. Since 2008, this has almost always been a downgrade of a company’s expected profits, which then results in a sharp price fall, gnashing of teeth and tears from the analyst responsible for recommending the stock. In recent example of this came from Flight Centre  who warned two weeks ago that they were unlikely to meet their targeted profit growth due to consumer confidence over the Australian election and the Brexit referendum in the UK. The company’s share price fell by 17% wiping $627 million of the travel company’s market capitalisation based on a change in expected profit in 2016 of only $30 million! In this week’s piece we are going to look at downgrades and next week I am going to follow up with a piece on earnings shenanigans, or what a company can do to dress up their earnings.

The months leading up to the end of each reporting season are known as “Confession Season”, which is usually May/June and November/ December of each year as the companies become aware that they are not going to meet profit expectations and then “confess” their sins.

Read more here.

Currency Wars

May 27th, 2016

Over the last month we have seen the AUD fall 8% vs the USD, continuing the volatility in the AUD in 2016 which started the year off at 0.72, then fell to 0.68 mid-January before recovering to over 0.78 in mid-April. The fall in May sparked research that was released on Wednesday from ANZ Bank’s foreign exchange strategy team stating that the AUD was overvalued, and could head towards US50¢ as it loses its de facto safe-haven status. In the press large movements in the Australian dollar are often erroneously presented in the press as a vote of confidence in Australia as a nation or the management of our elected leaders. A falling Australian dollar is often viewed as a negative event, raising the cost of online purchases, imported cars and overseas travel. In this week’s piece we are going to look at the AUD and in particular the winners and losers from currency movements.

Read more here.

Making Investment Mistakes

May 20th, 2016

A piece of advice that has stuck with me over a number of years has been “In gaining an education in the stock market, you cannot set either the timing or the cost”.  Most articles produced by fund managers focus on great stock picking successes, highlighting brave and courageous decisions made by the fund manager in the face of naysayers and critics. Obviously this is done with the motive of encouraging clients to invest in funds managed by an individual with superior intellect and investment instincts than their peers. These articles are always quite easy to write as they conjure up pleasant memories of investing triumphs.

However I am firmly of the opinion that successes don’t build investing skills, but rather future outperformance is built on the accumulation of knowledge learned from painful experiences. In this week’s piece I am going to look at mistakes that I have made over the past two decades of being a professional fund manager.

Read more here.

Funds Management in Australia

May 13th, 2016

The business of funds management, and in particular the debate over vertical integration of advice, administration and management, has gone quiet after Labor’s Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) was ushered out in March 2016[1]. After a week I have spent poring over bank results and seeing how involved they are in the business of managing Australia’s investments, this week we are going to have a closer look at the funds management landscape in Australia, and in particular the dominance by the largest players of this A$2.6 trillion industry.

Read more here.

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