Reasons for Optimism: Equity Investment Outlook Fourth Quarter
Concerns about inflation and a looming Fed taper weighed on markets during the third quarter, but in our view the post-pandemic economy is well-positioned for extended cycle of capital investment, providing the impetus for broadening economic growth and job creation.
Still Waters Run Deep: Total Return Outlook Fourth Quarter 2021
The investment grade market was relatively calm in the third quarter, but we are concerned about undercurrents lying beneath the surface. In particular, we feel the dual threats of persistent inflation and a less accommodative Fed have the potential to impact pricing over the near to medium term.
Everybody Is Looking for Something: Strategic Income Outlook Fourth Quarter
Despite multiple headwinds, including increasing inflation, rising rates, and tight labor markets, our view is that the U.S. economy is in good shape. Markets may experience higher volatility as the Fed begins to taper its bond buying program, but we expect that to be a short-term issue.
“Is the Fed Ignoring Its Own Inflation Data?”
The Fed continues to assert that elevated inflation is largely due to “transitory factors,” but the Underlying Inflation Gauge, which is published by their own New York branch, tells a different story. To understand where inflation is heading, we advise investors to pay close attention to UIG data, even it if the Fed doesn’t.
Total Return Perspectives: August 2021
U.S. Treasuries ended their 4-month streak of positive returns and falling yields in August. Intermediate maturity yields rose more than shorter and longer maturities, as the market began to see through the impact of the Delta variant and focus more on the Federal Reserve’s plan to scale back their bond buying program.
Total Return Perspectives: July 2021
Longer term Treasury yields fell for a fourth consecutive month in July, as concerns around the resurgence of coronavirus weighed on forecasts for continued economic growth. Agency MBS underperformed investment grade corporates and Treasuries. While some inflation metrics set generational highs, and other economic data indicated a continued recovery, investors were focused on the potential impact of viral spread.
Transitory, or Not Transitory? That is the Question. Total Return Outlook Third Quarter
Despite a strengthening economy in the second quarter, investors were highly focused on the Federal Reserve’s response to the recent spike in inflation data.
FAIT Accompli? Strategic Income Outlook Third Quarter
Our economic outlook remains constructive, though we recognize it’s still too soon to know whether the current bout of inflation is transitory. Given the potential for rate increases, particularly after the Fed’s comments in June, we continue to prefer non-investment grade bonds, as they have lower duration and higher yields.
Investment Grade Credit Midyear Report: A Challenging First Half, but Opportunities Remain
Rising interest rates generated negative year-to-date returns for investment grade bonds in 2021, but the second half of the year looks more promising. We believe the combination of reduced supply and strong demand will create attractive opportunities, and we are constructive on corporate credit and asset backed securities (ABS).
Total Return Perspectives: June 2021
Following the June Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, the Treasury curve flattened as the market reacted to a more aggressive hiking schedule than previously expected. Risk continued to perform well as investment grade (IG) corporates outperformed again and tightened through levels not seen since 2018. Economic data continues to improve showing the reopening remains on track, but investors remain focused on elevated levels of inflation.
Why Secular Growth Matters, and How We Find It
Growth stocks have lagged cyclicals so far in 2021, but we remain steadfast in our belief that secular growth is the key to generating long-term returns. In this piece, we discuss how we find attractive opportunities in the small cap universe.
Electric Vehicles Have Shifted into High Gear, and One EV Stock Is Well-Positioned to Capitalize
After idling for decades, electric vehicles (EVs) are finally ready to charge ahead. Changes in the regulatory landscape, decreasing costs, and a substantially wider range of buying options have transformed the industry and created a powerful secular growth trend. One little known electronics supplier, Aptiv PLC, is particularly well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunity.
Total Return Perspectives: May 2021
Treasury yields fell again in May and credit spreads approached recent tights as the virus continued to recede, allowing the reopening of the economy to progress. Economic data was noisy this month, largely due to base effects, but confirms the ongoing trend of renewed growth and signs of inflation.
Nonplussed – Strategic Income Outlook, Second Quarter
Although we remain constructive about the economic outlook, the recent increase in speculative activity gives us some pause. We continue to favor a cautious approach in the near-to-medium term.
Tradition… Inflation? – Total Return Outlook, Second Quarter
Investors aggressively sold off Treasuries in the first quarter in favor of risk assets. We think this is likely to continue as the economy strengthens and inflationary pressures build, and we are maintaining a defensive duration profile to protect against rising rates.
Solid Fundamentals but Questions Remain – Equity Outlook, Second Quarter
Despite a volatile first quarter, economic fundamentals appear to be improving. We are constructive on the equity market in the near-to-medium term, but we are closely monitoring inflation and interest rates.
Price Makers, Share Gainers, and Compounding Machines: Three Quality Business Models
Defining a quality business is easier said than done. We have found that the highest quality businesses either consistently exercise pricing power while maintaining market share or consistently grow market share by undercutting incumbents. A choice few companies we call “compounding machines” can both raise price and increase market share.
Total Return Perspectives: February 2021
Treasury yields rocketed higher in February, with the move again concentrated in longer maturities. Volatility spiked as liquidity dried up in the Treasury market, especially after a very weak 7-year auction that briefly pushed 10-year Treasury yields to 1.60%. The news flow was largely the same direction: an improving economy, increased vaccine rollout with deaths and hospitalizations turning sharply lower, and a continued march toward a substantial fiscal stimulus plan.
Total Return Perspectives: January 2021
Treasury yields continued to march higher in January, with the move again concentrated in longer maturities. Mortgage spreads tightened slightly, while corporate bond spreads were mostly mixed. The market remains stuck between the push/pull of the prospect for greater fiscal stimulus and ongoing vaccine rollout versus continued lockdowns and the greatest one-month mortality rate since the pandemic began nearly a year ago.
The Roaring ’20s? Maybe.
Several pundits have raised the possibility that the current Covid-recession will be followed by a boom reminiscent of the Roaring '20s. Although we think that may be a tad too optimistic, we think the recovery will continue and feel “real economy” stocks could fare particularly well.
We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Valuation Metrics
2020 was a remarkable year, to say the least. As we begin 2021, we are faced with as many questions as we have answers. While the global pandemic caused economies to come to an abrupt halt in early 2020, we are now seeing some recovery, albeit tempered by recent spikes in infections.
2021 IG Outlook: Despite Headwinds, a Path Forward Exists
As the new year begins, the investment grade (IG) market faces multiple challenges, including a recovering economy, low yields, tight spreads, and record high duration. At the same time, market technicals remain favorable, fundamentals are improving, and there are attractive sectors in the index. Overall, we are modestly bullish about 2021 and feel there are compelling opportunities for those who know where to look.
Back to (the New) Normal: Five Secular Growth Trends for 2021
The coronavirus pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime event that transformed society and the economy almost overnight. We believe some of the most significant changes are likely here to stay, and we are focusing our investments on the secular growth trends we expect to strengthen as life returns to normal.
The Case for Waste: Finding Growth in Garbage
Although investors don’t normally think about trash when they’re looking for growth stocks, we believe the solid waste industry is well-positioned to outperform. In our view, the combination of high barriers to entry, stable demand, and opportunities for consolidation should provide reliable revenue growth for the foreseeable future.
Riding Market Tailwinds Equity Investment Outlook Fourth Quarter 2020
Despite ongoing weakness in the economy, stocks continued to rally in the third quarter. At first glance it seems perplexing, but a deeper analysis reveals that the market drivers are both rational and sustainable. In our view, the pandemic has created profound shifts in demand that have generated strong tailwinds for a wide range of firms.
Whooaaaa DeChambeau! Strategic Income Outlook Fourth Quarter 2020
Markets have continued to rally despite the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the upcoming U.S. election. We’re expecting increased volatility in the near term, and we think a cautious approach is the best course of action.
Who Will Win? Total Return Market Outlook Fourth Quarter 2020
Markets continued their recovery during the 3rd quarter, but the narrative transitioned from concerns about the pandemic to the U.S. election – a trend that we expect to continue in October. The outcome will likely have a material impact on both fiscal stimulus policies and Treasury yields.
Investment Grade Credit Update: An Exceptionally Eventful Year That Has Created Opportunities
The investment grade fixed income market has been unusually active in 2020. Initial concerns about Covid-19 triggered a sharp selloff, but sentiment abruptly reversed when the Fed announced plans to purchase corporate bonds. Spreads have nearly returned to their pre-pandemic levels, but not all sectors have recovered equally, creating interesting opportunities for savvy investors.
A Bright Future for Renewables: Lower Costs and Rising Demand
Following decades of investment and cost reduction, electricity from renewable energy should be cheaper than most existing fossil- and nuclear-fueled electricity within the next three-to-five years. We believe selectively investing in operators with scale and cost advantages in this sector should be rewarding given the increasing demand for clean energy.
Sticking with the Winners - Equity Investment Outlook July 2020
Thus far the market has shrugged off the recent rise in Covid cases, but the situation remains fluid. In our view, the best strategy is to invest in companies that are able to grow during this time of stress, either organically or by increasing market share as weaker competitors fall by the wayside.
Fortuna Redux - Strategic Income Outlook July 2020
Markets rebounded during the second quarter, aided by monumental support from the Fed. We expect the economy to continue improving, but given the recent wave of Covid cases we also expect some bumps along the way.
Is It Safe Yet? - Total Return Market Outlook July 2020
While we appear to have averted the worst pandemic outcomes so far, a resurgence in recently reopened states shows that we are not yet out of the woods. In our view, the economy will not fully recover until there is a vaccine or a reliable treatment.
Steepening the (Adoption) Curve: Covid-19 and Digital Transformation
In the era of social distancing, technology has become even more integrated into our personal and professional lives. We believe this trend will persist even after the pandemic passes, and we expect it will particularly benefit firms that support remote working arrangements and eCommerce, two areas where we anticipate accelerating adoption and sustained growth.
Bear Territory: Equity Investment Outlook April 2020
Rarely has market performance and sentiment changed so quickly than what has been observed in the first quarter of 2020. The start of the year was promising, with the S&P 500 climbing above 5% through the middle of February...
The Plumbing Clogged, but Do Not Throw Out the Baby With the Bath Water
According to John Sheehan, the recent selloff in Investment Grade fixed income was exacerbated by technical factors. In his view, regulatory changes implemented after the 2008 crisis removed a critical shock absorbing mechanism that caused spreads to spike.
Equity Investment Outlook
As we have written several times over the last 10 years, inflation has been kept down by the twin forces of globalization and technology (particularly digital technology). These forces are not going away, and in fact, digital technology is becoming increasingly pervasive throughout the economy, dramatically increasing efficiency and lowering costs in industry after industry. We do not see this trend abating.
Headwinds Are Blowing, But the Ship Sails Onward Total Return Market Outlook
2019 proved to be a very strong year for almost all financial assets, as equities and bonds rallied in tandem. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) was compelled to play defense against a weaker global economy (particularly in Europe) and continued uncertainty related to the trade dispute between the U.S. and China.
Are We There Yet?
2019 was a very good year for investors. Surprisingly, both offensive and defensive sectors did well, which is a marked about-face compared with 2018. We believe this is mostly due to a central bank shift to policy easing, especially in the U.S., coupled with a relatively steady economy.
How Low Can Rates Go? Total Return Market Outlook
The fixed income market benefited in the third quarter as both global growth fears and the trade dispute continued to drive uncertainty in financial markets. With Europe remaining in an economic rut and China showing signs of slowing from the protracted trade conflict, investors sought the safety of U.S. Treasuries, pushing up prices and reducing yields.
Snoozefest or a Seismic Shift?
Looking at the beginning and ending levels for equities and fixed income during the third quarter, one might erroneously conclude that it was another summer snoozefest. However, there was volatility during the quarter as the equity markets shrugged off a sloppy August awash in second quarter earnings disappointments and staged a solid comeback rally through September.
Equity Investment Outlook
During the third quarter, the stock market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index (S&P 500), posted a modest 1.70% gain, while the U.S. economy enjoyed a continuation of the recovery begun in 2009. Both achievements were remarkable...
Aligned Incentives: Our Key to Navigating the Diverse High Yield Market
In our experience, family-owned private firms and small-to-medium sized public companies are most likely to borrow responsibly and prioritize bondholders ahead of other investors.