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What can we do during periods of volatility?

There a many things that we, as investment professionals, cannot control: 

  • We cannot make Russia behave-- although we wish we could.
  • We cannot make the economy stronger-- although it seems to be doing that by itself. 
  • We cannot control the rate at which the central banks increase interest rates-- althought the decisions they make will affect all capital markets profoundly.

So what can we do-- and what matters about what we do?

 

Our job is to find good companies and good fund managers in which to invest our clients' assets. We do this by:

  • Constantly researching into new names.
  • Constantly monitoring the names we already own.
  • Constantly reading the financial press to understand what is going on in the market in order to find new themes and new ideas.

Warren Buffett says he spends most of his time sitting in a chair reading. It seems to have worked out pretty well as a strategy. We are also voracious consumers of information, and-- for the most part-- it has worked out pretty well for our clients too.

 

One way of knowing if we are doing our job well, is to look at the performance of the companies in our portfolios. We should surely not be looking only at the performance of the stock prices, which, over the short term, have an element of randomness and volatility caused by any number of things.

 

What matters-- and what we should be looking at-- is the actual revenue and earnings of each company and the prospects for increased revenues going forward. We believe-- and history has shown-- that companies that grow their earnings increase in value and, that over time, that value shows up in the stock price.

 

The essence of our job?

  • Building a diversified portfolio of leading companies.
  • Paying attention on a day-by-day basis to the progress of each one.
  • Making changes as required.

That is what matters.

 

"Investor returns are primarily derived by what you do in down markets-- NOT up markets"

-- Greg Frost

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Learnings from the iAS Advisor Summit September 2019

Recently, I attended the iA Securities Advisor Summit in Quebec City.

While there were many fascinating topics and speakers, I would like to share highlights from Clement Gignac's presentation. Clement is Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist at our parent company iA Financial Group.

Summarized from Clement Gignac’s presentation on September 23, 2019 at the iAS Advisor Summit:

 

  • We are currently experiencing the longest bull market in history, but bull markets do not die of old age
  • The service sector is resilient however, the manufacturing sector is slowing down
  • ISM Manufacturing Index is at 50, signalling a slowdown, which is confirmed by a CEO survey indicating that 60-70% expect a slowdown
  • GDP expected to end at 2.9%, down from 3.6% in 2018
  • Policy mistakes or external market shocks could jeopardize business cycle
  • Financial markets are very sensitive to trade settlements developing in USA
  • Global trade contraction outside of recession is a first, due to the rise in protectionism
  • Analysts are not calling a recession yet, however, if USA imposes additional tariffs in December, this will have a significant impact
  • Historically, a US president has never been re-elected in a recession. The emphasis will be on President Trump to get changes enacted before additional tariffs are enacted in mid-December
  • The labour market is posting its best results in 16 years
  • Canada has the highest immigration growth of the OECD countries and the highest level of education with 65% of immigrants aged 25-45 having post-secondary education
  • Fair value of the Canadian dollar is closer to 80 cents
  • Bond yields are very low. Global bond yields have hit a record low. There are now 14 trillion bonds in the world with negative interest rates—this means that citizens are financing government funds to borrow from them

International perspectives—bottom line

 

Risk factors:

 

  • The trade relationship between China and the US remains tense and brings significant uncertainty to global supply chains
  • The weakness of manufacturing activity could lead to larger global economic downturn, especially in Europe with Germany
  • Geopolitical risks remain high (tensions in the middle east)
  • Political uncertainty around Brexit

Positive elements:

  • The US consumer remains confident and has an adequate level of savings
  • China is using its fiscal policy in a recession scenario
  • Germany is open to using its fiscal policy in a recession scenario
  • Many central banks are now pointing to further monetary easing

 

 

This information has been prepared by Greg Frost who is an Investment Advisor for HollisWealth®. Opinions expressed in this article are those of the Investment Advisor only and do not necessarily reflect those of HollisWealth. HollisWealth® is a division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc., a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

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