Archive for September 1st, 2012
Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Only 17% of credit managers (real or leveraged) expect notable widening in spreads (a rise in risk) by year-end, according to Citigroup’s most recent client survey. This increasingly extreme bullish sentiment seems dominated by the trend of inflows into real-money accounts (which have chased high-beta, high-yield, and peripheral exposure) whereas hedge funds have used this most recent rally to reduce exposure to the peripheral, notably limited their HY exposure, increased their leveraged loan (secured credit) positioning, and increased core exposure. There remains an over-arching belief that the trend in flows will continue and that these flows will dominate market movements – however, the divergence between European bank and high-yield credit exposures (real-money getting longer, leveraged money reducing/getting short) is as dramatic as it as ever been. The last time we saw such a bull/bear divergence between real- and leveraged-money was at the bottom in Q1 2009 (but that time real-money was short and hedgies were adding longs – and were right!)
The divergence between real-money (flows) and leveraged-money (trades) in high-yield is dramatic – hedge funds have not been this ‘neutral’ since before the crash in ’09 and so divergent…
Guessing flow-expectations – trend is your friend – seems like a recipe for disaster (though a profitable disaster for months) as every seasoned credit manager knows, the downside from losers far outweighs the upside from winners (especially in high-yield currently with convexity and call constraints). The question is – if we see any risk pullback on disappointment from Draghi/Bernanke, marginal liquidity will evaporate very quickly and it seems hedgies are positioning for this (and shifting up the capital structure into secured positions).
Above all, though, it just feels to us as though markets have got ahead of themselves. Spreads remain close to their tights. YTD total returns are the second best on record, second only to 2009. Although one investor told us that “being bearish about September is so consensus”, we doubt that many are positioned that way. The strength of the Italian auction, the way sectoral and peripheral positions have crept longer in our survey, and the correlations between market moves and central bank liquidity all suggest otherwise. Given the number of holes here, and not just in Jackson, the market still feels quite likely to stumble further.
Real-money (left) vs hedge-funds (right) have seen very dramatically different positioning this month. So much for the ‘money on the sidelines’ myth…
One thing they do agree on – secured credit is a play: Leveraged Loan exposure rose on both sides…
But Only 17% expect spreads to widen more than the cost of carry into year-end – an extremely bullish positioning, no matter how much you hear about consensus concern for September…
Real and leveraged money remains short Peripheral and long Core – but as is clear from the charts below, real money has reduced its short periphery exposure and reduced its long core position.
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Saturday, September 1st, 2012
The Case for Emerging Europe
By Frank Holmes, CEO and Chief Investment Officer, uU.S. Global Investors
If history had turned out differently, the USSR would’ve taken home the most Olympic medals this year, as the total awarded to athletes from the area was 163, according to a blog on Foreign Policy’s website. As we all know, the Wall came down, the Soviet Union collapsed, and now Russia has to be content with its third-place position of 82 medals. Athletes from the United States were awarded the most medals (104), followed by participants from China, who took home 88.
In another contest, the U.S. stock market outperformed many developed and emerging equity markets for the year as of the end of August. Despite the negativity surrounding corporate earnings, lower economic growth and ongoing political uncertainty, the S&P 500 ETF rallied, climbing 13 percent through August 30.
By comparison, the iShares S&P Europe 350 ETF only rose 6.9 percent.
What seems to be overlooked by investors is the fact that stocks in Emerging Europe have also seen noteworthy results. As you can see in the chart below, the Eastern European Fund (EUROX) rose nearly 10 percent over the same time frame. Turkey was a significant contributor to those results, with stocks in the country climbing almost 40 percent; Russian stocks only advanced about 4 percent.
With the underperformance of the iShares S&P Europe 350 ETF, many investors have interpreted this as a contrarian sign to hunt for bargains in developed Europe. However, if you believe that Europe will see better days ahead, greater opportunity may lie to the east.
Here are three reasons to look at Emerging Europe stocks today:
1. Better GDP Growth Potential
The companies in the Eastern European area are located in countries set to grow faster than the U.S. and countries in Europe. Russia and Turkey are projected to have a GDP of about 4 percent this year, while Poland’s GDP growth is expected to be 2 to 3 percent.
2. Stocks are Undervalued
Along with benefiting from higher GDP growth, many of these stocks are historically undervalued. BCA Research looked at certain value metrics of several emerging market countries, including the trailing and forward price-to-earnings ratio and price-to-book ratios and compared these figures to the historical average going back to the early 1990s. Poland has a reading of about 1.2, which means that today’s price-to-earnings and price-to-book ratios are 1.2 standard deviations below the historical mean. Conversely, Mexico’s reading of -1.5 indicates that stocks in this country are historically overvalued.
Among emerging countries, Poland, Russia and Turkey are the better values, says BCA.
BCA also looked at the emerging markets where growth was expected to improve over the next five years compared to the previous two years. Among “the most favorably-placed markets” for valuation and economic growth were Russia and Poland.
3. Attractive Dividend Yields
Many Eastern European stocks pay attractive dividends, allowing investors to benefit from income and potential appreciation. As of June 30, 2012, the stocks in the EUROX portfolio had an average dividend yield of more than 5 percent.
Dividend income may not be the only benefit: According to research from ING Bank, there appears to be a healthy dividend effect on stock outperformance in emerging Europe.
The chart below shows the cumulative average outperformance 40 days before and 40 days after the ex-date among dividend-paying stocks in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) countries. The outperformance has historically started about 10 days before the ex-date and continues throughout the next 40 days. The ex-date is the day on or after which a security is traded without a previously declared dividend or distribution.
While this effect is seen throughout the EMEA countries, “Turkish stocks appear to be most attractive dividend effect plays with outperformance of 5 percent on average,” according to ING.
In today’s low yielding environment, dividends have been particularly attractive to investors. Martin Barnes, chief economist at BCA Research, writes to subscribers that he believes that in today’s uncertain environment, investors can still “build an equity portfolio of global companies with strong balance sheets, powerful brands and paying reliable and decent dividends. Not the most exciting investment strategy perhaps, but one that should pay off in the long-run.”
Price Reversal Indicates Attractive Entry Point?
As you can see below, over the past month, EUROX has moved above its 50-day moving average. This indicates to us that there is growing strength in the Eastern European area and an attractive entry point for investors.
The Eastern European Fund isn’t the only fund signaling a potential price reversal—all equity funds at U.S. Global Investors are above their 50-day moving average. Click here to see the charts.
|Eastern European Fund||-24.68%||7.09%||-10.06%||9.74%||1.98%|
|SPDR S&P 500 ETF||5.26%||16.23%||0.16%||5.23%||0.10%|
|iShares S&P Europe 350 ETF||-13.00%||-2.31%||-10.65%||-1.45%||0.60%|
Expense ratios as stated in the most recent prospectus. Performance data quoted above is historical. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Results reflect the reinvestment of dividends and other earnings. Current performance may be higher or lower than the performance data quoted. The principal value and investment return of an investment will fluctuate so that your shares, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Performance does not include the effect of any direct fees described in the fund’s prospectus (e.g., short-term trading fees of 2.00%) which, if applicable, would lower your total returns. Performance quoted for periods of one year or less is cumulative and not annualized. Obtain performance data current to the most recent month-end at www.usfunds.com or 1-800-US-FUNDS.
Dividend yields are as of 6/30/2012. These figures do not represent the funds’ yields, which may be materially different from the average yields of the stocks held in the funds.
For investment objective and risks regarding the Eastern European Fund, the SPDR S&P and the S&P Europe 350 ETFs, please see the disclosures section.
Saturday, September 1st, 2012
U.S. Equity Market Radar (September 2, 2012)
The S&P 500 Index fell 0.32 percent this week as economic data was mixed and many market participants were waiting on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s Friday morning’s speech from Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Chairman Bernanke didn’t disappoint but also didn’t offer a lot of additional information, essentially saying the Fed has an easing bias and will implement additional quantitative easing if deemed necessary.
- The consumer discretionary sector was the best performer this week rising a modest 0.21 percent as retail sales data for August was generally better than expected. Tiffany & Co., J.C. Penny, Carnival Corp. and Coach all rose by at least 4 percent.
- The health care sector was also able to eek out a small gain with WellPoint, Waters Corp. and Edwards LifeSciences Corp. leading the way with gains 3 percent or more.
- Hudson City Bancorp was the best performer in the S&P 500 this week rising by 11.65 percent as M&T Bank agreed to buy the company for $3.8 billion.
- The industrials sector was the worst performer this week as a weak global economic environment is making it difficult for many bellwether names in this space. Joy Global, Eaton Corp., Cummins and Fluor were among the worst performers for the week.
- The utilities sector lagged for the third week in a row as the market continued to rotate into other areas. Utilities remained the worst-performing sector over the past three months, rising just 1.26 percent vs. more than 7 percent for the S&P 500.
- First Solar was the worst performer this week in the S&P 500, falling by more than 19 percent as the company reported it had stopped delivering modules to a power plant in Arizona. It is believed that current inventory at the site may not be installed until next year, increasing concerns about the level of inventory and operating rates at the company.
- The market remains focused on the potential monetary policy action from the Fed, the European Central Bank (ECB) and China, looking past the current economic weakness.
- The S&P 500 has almost reached its April high, a technical resistance level, and could be vulnerable to any disappointments from global central bankers.
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Saturday, September 1st, 2012
The Economy and Bond Market Radar (September 2, 2012)
Treasury yields built on last week’s momentum and continued to fall this week as the much anticipated Jackson Hole speech from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke did not disappoint. Chairman Bernanke reiterated many of the ideas communicated after the August 1 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, essentially saying that additional quantitative easing remains a viable policy tool and the Fed would implement if they deemed it necessary. The ECB added to the positive tone this week by reiterating its preference for buying European sovereign bonds. Also on Friday it was announced that the ECB was moving forward with a proposal that would allow it day-to-day oversight of large banks and the ability to grant bank licenses. This potentially paves the way for direct bank bailouts if needed, avoiding many of the political hurdles that have plagued the on-going financial crisis.
- Back to school sales started off strong with July as personal spending rose 0.4 percent, which was the strongest performance since February. That trend continued in August as many retailers reported stronger than expected same-store-sales results across a broad cross section of formats.
- Pending home sales rose 2.4 percent in July, which was the best showing since April 2010.
- The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index rose 0.9 percent (seasonally adjusted) in June. This indicator has now increased for five months in a row.
- Consumer confidence hit a nine-month low in August and fell far short of analyst expectations.
- Germany’s Ifo business sentiment index fell in August for the fourth straight month as the majority of firms surveyed had negative outlooks for the first time in three years.
- Retail sales in Japan fell 0.8 percent in July on a year-over-year basis; this was the worst showing since November 2011.
- Both the Fed and ECB appear ready to implement some form of quantitative easing in the very near future.
- With further weak economic data out of China, odds of additional easing measures continue to move higher.
- Interest rates are likely to remain very low for the foreseeable future.
- Europe remains a wildcard with the markets shifting focus on a weekly basis.
- China also remains somewhat of a wildcard as the economy has slowed and officials appear in no hurry to take decisive action.
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Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Gold Market Radar (September 2, 2012)
For the week, spot gold closed at $1,692.01 up $21.46 per ounce, or 1.28 percent. Gold stocks, as measured by the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index, rose 0.69 percent. The U.S. Trade-Weighted Dollar Index slipped lower, falling 0.43 percent for the week.
- The tides appear to be turning. Since the February $1,790 highs in gold and Bernanke’s stalling on any new stimulus measures, gold has been the fast money’s favorite short with each ensuing Fed meeting.
- However over the last couple of months, Fed meetings have produced only modest pull backs in gold that were met with heavy accumulation. Gold inventories held in ETFs have been on the rise with nearly 38 tons of accumulation in August just in the U.S.’s most widely traded product, marking the biggest inflow since November. Gold held in ETFs now exceeds Italy’s national reserves of gold, which are the third largest in the world.
- The $36 plus jump in gold on Friday, as it initially slumped close to its 200-day moving average after Bernanke’s speech, set a very strong tone for investors to get long and don’t be wrong.
- The labor conflict between the South African unions at the platinum mines has started to spill over to the gold mines. Labor at Gold Fields Kloof-Driefontein operation started an illegal strike at the close of the week and caused its share price to miss out on any of the gains produced by the surge in gold. This mine accounted for 31 percent of Gold Field’s production last year.
- In addition, Gold Fields said it expected Ghana to announce a 10 percent windfall tax by the end of next month. Gold Fields has been trying to get a tax stability agreement in place for the last eight years with regards to its Tarkwa mine. This may be a bargaining ploy to signal to Ghana that new investment in the country will be a risk if an agreement cannot be reached.
- Some of the press articles still try to villainize hedge fund manager John Paulson for the tremendous success he has had in the capital markets, particularly since he is focused on gold and it has had a rough start to the year.
- Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining released their prefeasibility study for the Golpu project in Papua New Guinea mid-week. Both companies’ share prices took a hit on the push back on the development timeline, but for Harmony the growth in the updated resource base will be game changer over time. Harmony’s gold reserves in Papua New Guinea have grown to 42 percent of the company’s total reserves versus 11 percent in the prior year. Earlier this year Harmony sold its Evander operations in South Africa, further reducing its exposure to South Africa.
- Gold smuggling in India may be up as much as 10-fold based on seizures of undeclared gold coming into the country at airports. The rise in the import duty on gold from 2 percent to 4 percent earlier this year has evidently not stymied the desire to acquire gold in India. Weakness in the rupee has sent the local gold price to new highs, which typically would soften the demand for gold in anticipation of a pull-back, but demand still appears to be strong.
- Not only has shorting gold bullion been a popular trade by the fast money players but so has shorting the gold stocks. This has become a crowed trade and of course all good things must come to an end. In the case of Dundee Precious Metals, the short interest has reached such an extreme that it would take nearly 51 days of average trading volume to close out the short positions. Let the wailing and gnashing of teeth begin for the short sellers as the gold price rises higher.
- Some are cautioning that the silver mining stocks have risen too much in the recent rally and are due for a correction in the short term. It is true the silver stocks have been star performers but historically silver stocks have exhibited as much as a three- times beta to the gold stocks. We haven’t seen much talk that the gold stocks are overdone yet.
- The dollar has drifted steadily lower over the month of August and now within a couple percent of crossing below its 200-day moving average. This could be a technical support level which some traders might try to defend, considering the political backdrop to keep America strong, and could be a testing point to see if the gold price can go higher.
- The next Fed meeting on September 12-13 may be the last time the Fed can announce any new measures to shore up the economy, without looking too partisan in its bias, and could be an important test for new legs in the gold price. Given that Romney has said that he will fire Bernanke if he is elected, we will see how badly the Fed Chairman would like to keep his job.
Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Energy and Natural Resources Market Radar (September 2, 2012)
- The U.S. oil-rig count rose for the first time in three weeks as crude futures breached $95 a barrel. The oil count increased by 11 to 1,419 rigs.
- International oil companies and sovereign wealth funds continue to see opportunities in the North American oil patch. The Globe and Mail reported that the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation may invest as much as C$4 billion for a joint venture to develop Athabasca Oil’s assets in Alberta.
- Despite a sluggish domestic economy, the Department of Energy’s latest report showed that June 2012 implied demand for gasoline and distillate were revised up 1.3 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively.
- Rusal announced it would be cutting 150,000 metric tons of capacity in light of continued pressure on aluminum prices and company performance. The cut represents roughly 4 percent of expected 2012 output and comes as part of a larger review of 275,000 metric tons of high-cost capacity. Further cuts could potentially be made in stages over the next several years and replaced with lower-cost capacity currently under construction in Siberia.
- Returns for very large crude carriers (VLCC) for the industry’s busiest trade route stayed negative for an eighth week as a lack of cargoes continues to persist. VLCCs are losing $6,389 daily from the Middle East to Asia route. Returns have now been negative since July 5.
- Iron ore prices fell to their lowest levels since 2009 on Thursday as a slowdown from top-consumer China dampens demand for the steel-making ingredient.
- Increased activity in the exploration and production (E&P) sector will be the primary driver in pushing oil and gas capital expenditure (capex) to an enormous $1,039 billion for 2012, states the latest report by GlobalData. The new report predicts that the total oil and gas capex will increase by 13.4 percent this year over the 2011 total of $916 billion, as oil companies intensify upstream operations across locations as diverse as offshore Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Circle.
- Royal Dutch Shell will be allowed to begin some “limited” drilling in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, the U.S. government said on Thursday, a move the company hailed as a step forward in its long-delayed effort to tap Arctic oil.
- Morgan Stanley says iron ore could decline as much as 16 percent from its lowest price in more than 2 years on slowing demand and rising stockpiles. Iron ore with 62 percent iron content was at $99.40 per ton on August 24.
- Downgrades to Chinese economic growth may bias oil demand growth prospects to the downside, which could weigh on crude oil prices.
Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Emerging Markets Radar (September 2, 2o12)
- Central Huijin Investment, China’s government wealth management entity, picked up more A-shares of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China in the second quarter, in hopes of boosting the market sentiment in China as regulators also called on companies to buy back their shares as their share price approaches book value.
- China’s third-quarter economy may rebound and be “slightly” higher than the second quarter as stable growth policies start to take effect, Xinhua reported, citing Hou Yunchun, a researcher at the State Council’s State Development Research Center.
- China will overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest smartphone market this year. China will account for 26.5 percent of smartphone shipments in 2012, compared with 17.8 percent for the U.S., research firm IDC said.
- About 2,453 publicly listed Chinese companies combined first-half profits falling 0.38 percent with no growth on a year-over-year basis, China Securities Journal said. For the second half of the year, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research and CICC believe corporate earnings growth could accelerate as they think China will step up easing policies.
- High commodity prices have played a significant role in depressing Indian equities’ price performance. Lower commodity prices will help stabilize India’s relative performance against other emerging markets because they will at the margin boost profit margins as well as domestic liquidity, according to BCA.
- Thailand’s July exports fell 4.46 percent, lower than the consensus of -3.8 percent, but imports surged 13.7 percent on a year-over-year basis, resulting in a widening trade deficit of $1.75 billion.
- Here is a case in point that government policy is a precursor to change. In the Philippines, both monetary and fiscal policies are in favor of property and construction and consumer income growth, as the country is cutting interest rates and allocating the budget toward building infrastructure in the country. The chart below shows capital goods imports increased, an indication that construction is booming.
- Indian relative equity valuations are no longer excessive given that India’s return on equity and return on assets exceed, and will likely remain, above those of emerging markets counterparts, maintains BCA Research.
- Now that anti-corruption allegations have largely subsided, BCA Research expects the Indian government to approve a pipeline of pending projects. After a prolonged and messy hold up, this is not only positive for India’s power problems, but also for the nation’s banks, which have a sizable exposure to the power industry.
- Indonesia’s current account deficit widened to 3.1 percent GDP in the first half of the year as export commodity prices fell, while the domestic economy and consumptions were booming. Directly impacted by current account deficit, Indonesia’s currency was weakened, which, though not a structural issue, caused some market volatility lately.
- On the heels of the Republican convention, a Citibank strategist opined that a victory for Romney could drive the Russian equity market down by 5 to 10 percent. Romney’s foreign policy stance differs in two key areas that could damage the Russian market: 1) the ‘number one geopolitical foe’ rhetoric would elicit an equal and opposite reaction; and 2) a greater push for U.S. energy independence has important consequences for global oil markets.
- On the other hand, Romney’s foreign policy platform would bolster relationships with traditional bulwarks against aggressive behavior on the part of Russia, such as Poland and Turkey. He plans to decrease European energy reliance on Russia by helping to speed up development of shale gas in Poland. He would also aim to free Central Asian gas with construction of the Nabucco pipeline through Georgia and Turkey.