Likmju samazināšana kā risks?

Likmes, likmes, likmes – šis vārds kopš 2020. gada, kad COVID laikā tika dalīta helikoptera nauda un inflācija “parādīja zobus”, ieņem galveno vietu gandrīz visās finanšu ziņās. Mēs šajā ziņā neatšķīrāmies, bieži pieminot to savos pārskatos un rakstos. Šis laiks nav izņēmums, jo šogad liela uzmanība tiks veltīta procentu likmju, kas ir augstākajā līmenī vairāk nekā 22 gadu laikā, samazināšanas plānam. Decembra beigās akciju tirgus jau bija iecenojis FRS trīs procentu likmju samazinājumus – par ceturkšņa procentu katru. Tomēr bažas rada, ka likmes varētu tikt samazinātas pārāk strauji. Tāpēc mēs ceram, ka netiks atkārtota 1980. gada kļūda, kad FRS pēc kļūdainiem lēmumiem bija spiests ķerties pie vēl lielākiem likmju kāpumiem, nevis turpināt ar mērenu likmju samazināšanu.

Šobrīd ASV ekonomika uzrāda labus rezultātus, 2023. gada 3. ceturksnī pieaugot par 4,9%. Arī prognoze 2024.gadam neizskatās pārāk slikta – izaugsme prognozēta 1,4% apmērā. Pārsteidzoši spēcīgs ir darba tirgus, kas, šķiet, šobrīd ir galvenais šķērslis, lai samazinātu likmes. Attēlā redzams, ka algu inflācija joprojām ir ievērojama – jaunākie dati liecina, ka nesen bija vērojams 5% pieaugums. Turklāt atkal palielinājusies piemaksa par darba vietas maiņu. Tātad cīņa ar algu inflāciju vēl nav beigusies, un agrīna likmju samazināšana var pasliktināt situāciju.

1. attēls. Algu pieaugums ASV (avots: Atlantas Federālā banka, Bloomberg)

Papildus riska faktors, kas var veicināt patērētāju tēriņus un līdz ar to inflācijas noturību, ir “turīguma efekts” pēc lieliskās akciju tirgus izaugsmes un strauji augošā kriptovalūtu tirgus.

Protams, gan akciju, gan obligāciju investori ar nepacietību gaida ziņas par likmju samazināšanu, tomēr vēsturiskie fakti liecina, ka, salīdzinot ar monetārās politikas mīkstināšanu, periodi bez izmaiņām varētu būt pat izdevīgāki (2. attēls). Tāpēc novēlēsim FRS 2024. gadā pieņemt gudrus lēmumus!

Citāds stāsts risinās Eiropā – IKP 2023. gada 3. ceturksnī saruka par 0.1%, ko ietekmēja kritums vadošajās ES valstu ekonomikās – Vācijā (-0.4%) un Francijā (-0.1%). Arī inflācijas rādītāji salīdzinājumā ar ASV ir mērenāki: 2.4 % pret 3.1 %. Tāpēc šķiet, ka, lai atdzīvinātu ekonomiku, procentu likmju samazināšanas politika vispirms tiks īstenota Eiropā.

2. attēls. Aktīvu ienesīgums un likmju paaugstināšana/samazināšana (avots: Blackrock)

Augstvērtīgi uzņēmumi kā vairogs

Jo ilgāk likmes tiek saglabātas salīdzinoši augstā līmenī, jo vairāk pieaug recesijas riski. Ņemot vērā vēsturi, reālās ekonomikas reakcijas nobīde ir 18-24 mēneši, tāpēc ekonomikas lejupslīde, varētu pat teikt, ir neizbēgama, un recesija var iestāties pat tad, ja likmes tiek mazinātas jau gada sākumā.

Tāpēc mūsu ikmēneša portfeļa pārskatīšanas procesā galvenā uzmanība tiek pievērsta uzņēmumu noturībai. Liela vērība tiek pievērsta uzņēmuma peļņas maržas līmenim un cenas noteikšanas spēkam (pricing power).

Uzņēmumiem, kas atrodas mūsu portfeļos, ir raksturīga stabila bilance – šo uzņēmumu parāda attiecība pret pašu kapitālu ir ievērojami zemāka par tirgus vidējo rādītāju, un 2023. gadā bija vērojama pat zināma parādsaistību samazināšanās. Parāda līmenis kļūst aktuāls augstu likmju periodā, nodrošinot, ka procentu maksājumi pārmērīgi neietekmē uzņēmuma pelnītspēju un nepakļauj uzņēmumu refinansēšanas riskam. Par būtisku uzņēmumu kvalitātes statusa īpašību uzskatām arī periodisko ieņēmumu (recurring revenues) līmeni un naudas plūsmas veidošanās kvalitāti, kas palīdz uzņēmumam saglabāt stabilitāti.

Iepriekšminēto pazīmju esamība nodrošina uzņēmuma noturību un atšķir kvalitatīvus uzņēmumu no citiem, kas īpaši svarīgi ekonomikas lejupslīdes laikā.

Vai mēs tuvojamies recesijai?

Procentu likmes pieaug, kalpojot par galveno līdzekli cīņai ar ilgstoši augsto inflāciju. Kopš gada sākuma ECB (Eiropas Centrālā Banka)četras reizes paaugstinājusi galveno procentu likmi no 2.50% līdz 4%. FRS (Federālo Rezervju Sistēma) arī trīs reizes paaugstinājusi likmes – no 4.5% līdz 5.25%. Augstākas likmes neapšaubāmi rada būtisku spiedienu uz tautsaimniecības izaugsmi. Bažas par lejupslīdi tirgū pastāv jau kopš pagājušā gada vidus. Tomēr ASV tautsaimniecība joprojām saglabājas spēcīga, un FRS pārskatīja savas ekonomikas izaugsmes prognozes no 0.4% līdz 1%. Eiropā ECB prognozē, ka eirozonas IKP pieaugums 2023. gadā būs 0.9%.

Lai gan kopumā ekonomikas izaugsme saglabājas, pēdējais pusotrs gads ir bijis unikāls nevienmērīgas makroekonomiskās vides attīstības ziņā, kas daudziem ekonomistiem rada neizpratni.

Piemēram, ASV mājokļu tirgū 2022. gadā bija vērojams būtisks aktivitātes kritums, un vēsturiski šāds kritums tiek uzskatīts par lejupslīdes priekšvēstneša rādītāju, tomēr tas joprojām bija samērā lokāls. Jāatzīmē, ka esošo mājokļu tirgus palēnināšanās daļēji ir saistīta ar īpašumu trūkumu, jo mājokļu īpašnieki, “iesprostoti” zemās hipotēku likmēs, nelabprāt tos pārdod. Rezultātā potenciālie mājokļu pircēji pievēršas jaunu mājokļu pārdošanas tirgum, kas 2023. gadā piedzīvoja spēcīgu atveseļošanos.

Runājot par patērētāju noskaņojumu, šķiet, ka gan Eiropā, gan ASV rādītāji pagājušajā gadā ir sasnieguši zemāko punktu un pēdējā laikā ir uzlabojušies, ko veicina inflācijas samazināšanās. Pozitīvais patērētāju noskaņojums un stabilais darba tirgus, kurā vēl nav vērojamas nekādas negatīvas pazīmes, ir veicinājuši ekonomisko aktivitāti pakalpojumu sektorā. Tomēr ražotāji joprojām saskaras ar grūtībām, jo samazinājies preču pieprasījums un ir lieki krājumi. Atšķirība starp pakalpojumu sniedzēju un preču ražotāju darbības rādītājiem vēl nekad nav bijusi tik liela.

Lai gan bailes no recesijas ir jūtamas un bieži apspriestas klientu sanāksmēs, mēs nesaskatām spēcīgus rādītājus, kas liecinātu par būtisku ekonomikas vājumu. Gluži pretēji, daudzi ekonomiskie rādītāji liecina par atveseļošanās pazīmēm. Neatkarīgi no tā, vai recesija iestāsies vai nē, augstvērtīgas akcijas ir labi sagatavotas, lai izturētu arī vājus ekonomikas periodus. To noturību, papildus spēcīgiem finanšu rādītājiem, veicina konkurētspēja, globāla diversifikācija un bieži vien arī augsta regulāru ieņēmumu plūsma.

1. attēls. Galvenie ekonomiskie rādītāji ASV un Eiropā (avots: Refinitiv Eikon, Eurostat)

Mākslīgais intelekts palīdzēs ierobežot inflāciju un veicinās produktivitāti

Cik labi jau esat integrējis vairākus pieejamos mākslīgā intelekta rīkus savā ikdienas darba rutīnā? Gada sākumā mēs īsi pieminējām mākslīgā intelekta revolūciju, bet tagad tā, šķiet, ir pārliecinoši iekļāvusies ikdienas darbā. Piemēram, mūsu uzņēmumā mēs vairs neizmantojam tulkošanas pakalpojumus, jo šo lomu ir pārņēmis mākslīgais intelekts. Šī tehnoloģija mums palīdz efektīvāk izmantot laiku, veidojot tekstus un veicot aprēķinus. Neapšaubāmi, mākslīgais intelekts ir nozīmīgs uzņēmumu produktivitātes un rentabilitātes veicinātājs daudzos uzņēmumos.

Straujās mākslīgā intelekta attīstības negatīvā puse ir potenciālais darba vietu zaudēšanas risks birojos strādājošajiem (links). Lai gan pagaidām mēs to neuzskatām par būtisku apdraudējumu, tomēr pēc pārkarsētā darba tirgus vērojama tendence, ka vairākās uzņēmējdarbības nozarēs samazinās jaunu darbinieku pieņemšana, un novērojams arī bezdarba pabalsta prasītāju pieaugums. Raugoties no makroekonomiskās perspektīvas, to varētu uzskatīt par pozitīvu tendenci, kas veicina darba samaksas normalizēšanos un konkurētspējīgāku darba tirgu. Turklāt tas var radīt spiedienu uz cenu līmeni, kam vajadzētu palīdzēt inflācijai atgriezties tās ierastajā līmenī.

2.attēls. Sākotnējie bezdarba pabalsta pieprasījumi ASV

 

Quality companies as a safe harbour during inflationary times

Transitory or not? That’s the main debate going on around inflation, which jumped substantially in the second half of 2021 (fig.1), forcing investors to anxiously monitor monthly announcements of the next batch of the related statistical data. In fact, there is no point in guessing how fast the inflation figures will subside. The key focus should be on making sure that one has an excellent selection of the companies in the stock portfolio. In the inflationary environment, the ultimate winners are those companies that have evident economic moat and unquestionable competitive position offering high value-added products. These are the firms, having Quality style characteristics, that are able to pass cost inflation to their customers and, therefore, continue to deliver excellent financial results and grow total shareholder return. Given that there are many price-taking companies in the broader market indices, it is imperative to concentrate on the innovative and competitive price-making enterprises to earn alpha returns, especially when producer and consumer prices are on the rise.

Fig.1. Consumer prices, Y/Y change, not seasonally adjusted; Source: Hérens Quality AM

Quality as the Winner in Value- Growth Contest?

Growth stocks have been outperforming value stocks for each consecutive year since 2007. However, last year we saw that the throne of growth stocks was not that solid anymore and typical value industries, such as Energy and Financials, managed to outperform, although growth still succeeded in beating value in the end. The reason behind value-growth rotation, which might become more evident in the future, was that Central Banks began tapering bond purchases and considering lifting interest rates. Higher interest rates negatively influence fair values of high growth companies and, on top of that, it would mean more expensive debt servicing, which might hurt fast expansion intentions. So, we would probably see a seesaw between value and growth next year.

Flee to Value, however, should not bother quality investors even if a certain part of their holdings have a Growth style tilt. Quality companies, having significant economic moat, excellent managerial talent, good cash flow generation ability and a substantial amount of recurring revenue, are fundamentally robust and well-established to stick to their fast development plans.

Metaverse as a new dimension of development

Deeper digitalization and workplace revolution reinforced by the pandemic was the final step needed to make next wave of tech evolution finally possible – adoption of the metaverse. What used to be a decade-long dream of fiction writers and technologists is now virtually at the arm’s reach. The term “metaverse” has literally exploded in the second half of 2021, with Facebook even renaming itself into Meta Platforms to reflect its commitment to build this virtual world, where people can live, work and play. With consumers all over the world already being comfortable with usage of VR headsets, creation of virtual avatars, spending billions of dollars on digital clothing and accessories and purchasing NFTs, the foundation for the metaverse is laid. Of course, substantial investments are still required to perfect the technologies, but given that big players like Microsoft, Roblox, Epic Games among others have already committed to the development of their own metaverses, this future is already at our doorstep.

Digital space shift is going to be particularly relevant for the B2C companies, which have huge marketing budgets, parts of which are to be dedicated to the expansion of corporate footprint in the metaverse. For instance, Nike and Adidas are among the early birds to be present in the metaverse: Nike created Nikeland, virtual world designed for Nike fans on Roblox, while Adidas has earned $23 million selling its Adidas Originals: ‘Into the metaverse’ collection. No doubt metaverse will be the next big thing, having huge impact in the corporate space.

2021 is coming to an end and, we believe, the majority of investors celebrate a successful and profit-brining year (thank you, Jerome Powell 😊). Baltic markets managed to reach all-time highs many times during the year, mirroring other global stock markets and even beating them. So, now it is time to harvest the results, enjoy and relax.

Christmas lanterns are on, making it all look bright and joyful both outside and inside as we approach Christmas Eve. This means the time has come for you to turn the volume up for the Baltic stock market playlist, when we guide you through our directory of nominations review based on the most attention-deserving events that have happened on Baltic stocks markets over the course of the year.

1. Investor’s best friends

It seems we are on a good track to solve “the chicken or the egg” problem, when investors lack potential investment options, while companies not seeing sufficient investor pool have low motivation to be listed.

2021 was obviously a very busy year for stock exchanges, the homepages of which featured fresh photos from Times Square with the new stock or bond issuer almost every week. This created an excellent choice and opportunity for Baltic investors to allocate their capital, simultaneously supporting local economies. Modera, Hepsor, Enefit Green, DelfinGroup, Virši, Elmo Rent, Bercman Technologies, TextMagic, Hagen Bikes – all started their listed journey this year, cumulatively attracting EUR 208 mn in capital. It is also worth mentioning that the majority of IPOs were successful, unlike many global cases, setting good examples for the potential candidates of the future.

Such unprecedented activity has increased the number of retail investors and lifted trading volume, continuing the trend of previous years, when the commissions for trading Baltic stocks were eliminated by few brokerages.

2. Plead for capital

Not only new companies attracted capital via stock exchanges this year, but also the ones, whose operational activities were tangibly hit by pandemics, weighting substantially on their liquidity position. Tallink and Arco Vara were among the ones attracting additional equity capital and piling their liquidity reserves to continue standing firmly. LHV joined them by attracting EUR 25 mn to fund its active expansion.  The public offerings were quite successful, and the companies were able to fulfil their ambitions about additional capital, proving that presence on a stock exchange can be very beneficial also during the period when capital is required.

3. Another record

We are spoiled with records coming from the Baltic stoсk exchnages over the last few years. In autumn 2020 we saw the largest IPO ever, when Ignitis raised EUR 450 mn. This year another energy giant, renewable energy producer Enefit Green, went public and attracted a record high number of retail investors – over 60 thousands- as no company was able to engage more than 20K before. Obviously, this is an excellent trend as retail investors usually are the ones creating liquidity and moving the market, therefore further stimulating the development of capital markets eco-system in Baltics.

4. Shock of the year

We could not skip the historical events happening in Estonia, when pension system 2nd pillar was made voluntary, when every participant is assigned a right to manage his own money. One should probably admit that this is how the things should be once the population has achieved substantial level of financial literacy and accumulated experience in saving and investing through several generations. This, however, does not reflect the state of affairs in Estonia and the results of the reform, perhaps, would not be surprising as there would be a strong temptation for a many to spend their lifesavings. Luckily, many also invested in the Baltic listed companies, which provided a great tailwind for Baltic exchange and sent the benchmarks to the new heights.

5. Topic of the year

Last year the number one topic among investors was, obviously, the survival of companies during the global pandemics, which forced lockdowns and massive value chain disruptions. This year, somehow, the majority got used to the idea, while businesses learned how to survive or even thrive during numerous COVID-waves. Therefore, as a the Top Actor in the theatre of 2021 we nominate ESG topic that has been actively pushed by the regulations, financial sector and investors. Now the companies seem to really start acknowledging the importance of sustainability, making room for ESG sections in their annual reports or even preparing separate reports, and taking firm steps towards achievement of their ESG goals. Ignitis and Enefit are adding to the renewable energy capacity, Auga Group is setting the benchmarks for sustainable food production by having developed world’s first hybrid biomethane and electric tractor.

6. Adieu to…

Another pharmaceutical mastodont, Olainfarm from Latvia, has quit Riga Stock Exchange (last year it was Grindex). This was quite logical step for the company, which fell the victim to the ball of crowns involving heirs of the previous owners, foreign as well as local investors, with each party being eager to grab a piece of profits. Perhaps, the company with such a weak Corporate governance is not welcomed by the investors and, therefore, delisting is a positive move. Nevertheless, it deprives market participants the opportunity to invest in generics manufacturer with established market position and good operational processes, which was able to survive even during the shareholders wars.

7. Scandal of the year

Uncovering of a cartel case in construction industry has shaken up media space this summer, but perhaps less so in Estonia and Lithuania than in Latvia. Latvian Competition Council accused Latvian subsidiary of Merko Ehitus of the involvement in the anti-competitive activities during the years of 2015-2019 and has imposed a fine of EUR 2.7 mn as a result. Worth to notice that the news were virtually neglected by the market, with share price down by mere ~2% on the day when the company made the announcement.

8. Year of banking sector? 

Concluding our list of Top Events this year, we could not skip mentioning the best performers, which astonished market participants with extraordinary returns. Financial industry has taken up the lead: Coop Pank +144%, LHV +109%, Šiaulių bankas +49%. To compare, global financial industry also performed well this year delivering 26%, while benchmark was up 19%. Banks’ management has benefitted from the positive market sentiment and investors’ grace, supported by the development in corporate fundamentals when attracting additional capital via stock exchanges this year: Coop Pank attracted EUR 10 mn and Šiaulių bankas – EUR 75 mn through bond issue, LHV – EUR 25 mn via additional public offering.

It was a good year, can’t agree more… Thank you for investing and reading! Looking into the future, stay patient, humble and grateful!  Happy holidays!

Alphinox Team

 

 

About Alphinox

Alphinox is part of an independent asset manager group with expertise in capital management operating in accordance with Quality investment style. By combining investment expertise and long-term experience in analyzing global financial markets, Alphinox develops customized investment solutions and provides analytical research.

Disclaimer

This press release is for information purposes only and constitutes neither an offer nor a recommendation to undertake any type of transaction or to buy or sell securities or financial products in the broadest sense. Alphinox Quality AS offers no guarantee of the completeness, correctness or security of this press release. Alphinox Quality AS accepts no liability claims that might arise from the use or non-use of the content of this press release.

 

 

Spike in inflation to ease

Demand surge and supply shortage, which was partially caused by Suez Canal incident and bottlenecks in seaports, resulted in the unexpectedly high inflation in the US, which reached 5%. This immediately caused concerns over the rates hikes and have sent stock market back into the uneasy mood. However, we do not see this level of inflation to be sustainable as the supply shortage should ease and so should spike in the demand.

In contrast to the situation in the US, in Europe and Japan there is no evidence of the inflationary pressure as the economies have not yet recovered completely, the demand is still weak and service activities have not picked up yet.

In case the inflation is here to sit for a relatively long time, which, we believe, is very unlikely, stock investing сould provide a certain hedge against it. This is particularly true if the funds are invested in companies that can easily pass their costs to the consumers, i.e. they have strong economic moats as evidenced by high profit margins.

Fig.1 Consumer prices, Y/Y change

Source: Alphinox

Meme stocks

The topic of meme stocks that is attracting so much attention of retail investors and causing such losses to the short sellers in the first half of 2021 that, given its vast spread in the social media such as Reddit and Twitter, as well as widespread FOMO among retail investors, it will likely continue disrupting some parts of the market.

Pump and dump strategy that focuses on the stocks of almost bankrupt companies worked out well for many: this year GameStop returned 1036%, AMC Entertainment was up +2574%. According to Goldman Sachs, retail investors’ favorites doubled since June 2020, while the short-sellers’ targets brought hedge funds only 28% return. However, this new strategic trend can hardly be followed by the investors favoring sustainable long-term investments, knowing it implies huge uncertainty and potential for abnormal losses. We have covered this topic in detail in our February insight.

Value vs. Growth – who will get the laurels of 2021 best performer?

Cyclical stocks, where you often find value style representatives (e.g. energy and financial sector), have rebounded sharply in February and March this year, leaving growth stocks behind. However, June turned out to be a revanche month for the latter, as this was when they doubled down on catching-up game. Where to the scales will shift at the end of the year is still an unknown variable, depending on how the COVID – 19 situation unfolds and if we see further lockdowns due to Delta variant spread.

The known variable though is that the market will continue to recognize strong quality companies, which are able to generate earnings growth and keep convincing development pace in every market environment. Currently we see that the overwhelming majority of this type of companies are found among the growth stocks, so we put our bet on the growth style as a possible winner this year.

Fig.2 Value and Growth style monthly performance in 1H 2021

Source: Alphinox

All but European market investors enjoyed the roller-coaster ride this year, which turned out to be another Bull year, driven by the technology sector that received a strong boost from overall digitalization, e-commerce and work from home mode. We saw stock market records in USA despite significant damage coronavirus did to the economy: IMF forecasts that US GDP 2020 will decline by 4.3%, while in Europe – by 7.2%. Additionally, the situation was complicated by uncertainty regarding “deal or no deal” Brexit as deadline loomed , sending FTSE 100 down by 14.3% in 2020 and maintaining broader European market in the red zone.

To revive the economies, Central Banks and governments across the globe provided an unprecedented support to businesses and individuals – in 2020, Americans enjoyed once in a life-time opportunity to receive the helicopter money of $1’800. This all has led to building confidence in continuation of loose monetary policy and low interest rates at least in the mid-term (for instance, Federal Reserve signalled the intention to keep interest rates near zero for at least the next 5 years), which in turn has stimulated new money inflow in the stock markets.

Quality stocks have also enjoyed the rally in all markets and managed to take over both value and growth stocks in Europe. In USA the situation was a bit different as growth companies’ share prices went through the roof, therefore delivering better performance compared to quality stocks. It is worth noticing that 2020 marked the largest underperformance of value vs. growth style in stock market history[1]. Extremely good performance of growth style can be again explained by the massive gains by technology companies, which have been investors’ darlings for a long time as they marched in their quest to further enlarge footprint of their enormous eco-systems. The worst performers sector-wise were traditional value style representatives – Energy and Financials- which came as no surprise due to the downward-driven oil prices and low interest rates.

2020 was a year of both great opportunities and bitter disappointments and is likely to be remembered for a long time for extraordinary events it brought and for the trends it has set.

[1] https://www.dimensional.com/us-en/insights/when-its-value-versus-growth-history-is-on-values-side