Investment Insights

 

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 3Q, another record high

The just-released 3Q CY22 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average.

The case for China bonds

China’s bond market is exhibiting low correlation to other asset classes, displaying historically lower volatility, enjoying continued internationalisation of the renminbi and benefitting from the country being included in globally recognised indices.

This month, Fed Chair Powell seemed hellbent on quashing any last hope of a pivot or at least slowing the pace of rate hikes sometime soon. But this crushing blow to hope helped sow the seeds of an eyewatering rally when one inflation print showed some promise—hence, the manic cycle continues.

We are inclined towards Singapore and South Korean government bonds, given their relatively higher sensitivities to stabilising US Treasury yields. In currencies, we see the Singapore dollar continuing to outperform its regional peers.

The ASEAN region fared better on the whole in October thanks to gains by the Philippines and Malaysia; Hong Kong and Taiwan stocks were volatile while the China market continued sliding.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – October 2022

A notable feature of global equities this year has been the significant divergence seen among indices. New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index has provided an example of this by following a different track to the overall global trend so far.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – October 2022

As in the rest of the world, consumers in New Zealand are facing significant headwinds as the cost of living rises. The consensus was for inflation to decline rapidly after peaking, but the data now show that New Zealand’s inflation is becoming significantly entrenched, broad based, and domestically driven.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (November 2022)

We discuss Japan’s recent currency market interventions from an equity market perspective; we also share our thoughts on steadily rising inflation after a surge in the September core CPI.

Why convexity matters

Yields have moved significantly this year, challenging the assumption that the relationship between a bond’s price and yield is linear. We discuss convexity, which measures how sensitive a bond’s duration is to yield changes, and its importance under the current conditions.

Inbound tourism: An immediate boost for Japan

As Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida focuses on various economic initiatives to shore up his support ratings, the revival of inbound tourism is seen as a measure that can provide the economy with an immediate boost.

The potential implications of China’s 20th Party Congress

China’s 20th Party Congress ended on 23 October with President Xi Jinping winning an unprecedented third term as expected. We provide a brief analysis of the Congress and the impact it could have on China’s zero-COVID policy and the capital markets.

Global Unconstrained Bond Fund Q4 2022 Outlook

We present our Q4 2022 outlook for the Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy which incorporates our core markets, emerging markets and global credit views.

The future looks bright for Asia’s equity markets

Asia continues to offer opportunities in terms of attractive companies; on a relative basis, Asian markets look set to outperform as the region becomes an even more important part of the global economy.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q3 2022)

The low for this bear market could be a lot closer at hand now than it was, with equity valuations having fallen considerably. We remain focused upon assessing our companies’ ability to deliver earnings expectations and cash generation. These give us confidence in the long-term, even if shorter-term developments remain volatile.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – September 2022

Compared to its global peers the New Zealand bond market was stable in September. In the coming months, the New Zealand market is unlikely to see UK levels of volatility; one factor behind the turmoil in the UK, for example, was the country’s very high rate of inflation and associated pressure from energy issues. Uncertainty over a potentially large public fiscal outlay was similarly UK-specific.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – September 2022

The recent reporting season showed that New Zealand’s “gentailers” (companies that both generate and sell energy) remain committed to developing renewable generation capacity, with five such projects currently under construction. However, a rise in the cost of developing such capacity in the past 12 months is creating a significant challenge for gentailers.

Going forward, despite some expected moderation amidst the slowdown in global growth, we believe that growth and corporate credit fundamentals will remain sufficiently robust to prevent a meaningful widening of credit spreads. However, some modest widening may be expected in the near term, with the benchmark spread level at the tighter end of the expected medium-term range and given the plethora of global market risks.

Central bank tightening is beginning to have an impact, but less evidently in terms of easing inflationary pressures than in causing strains on the global financial system. Policymakers are beginning to blink—first with Japan intervening to support the yen for the first time since 1998, followed by the Bank of England (BOE) returning to quantitative easing (and postponing planned quantitative tightening) to ease pressures on the UK pension system following an ill-advised fiscal easing by new UK government leadership.

Rising interest rates and inflation woes continued to weigh on regional and global markets. US consumer prices registered above expectations with the August consumer price index (CPI) jumping 8.3% year-on-year (YoY). The tight labour market made further case for a rate hike, culminating in a 75-basis-point (bps) interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve (Fed).

Investing in a multipolar world

Between still high levels of inflation, fast-tightening central banks, a growing energy crisis in Europe and slow growth in China, it is easy to imagine a bleak growth outlook. But these difficult dynamics also harbour opportunities often masked in exaggerated mispricing based on fear and confusion.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (October 2022)

This month we analyse what immediate impact the full reopening of Japan could have on the economy and markets; we also review the factors that may make Prime Minister Kishida’s “asset-income doubling plan” more effective in the long term.

A big comeback: Rising fortunes of Asia’s small caps

After spending almost a decade in the shadows of their larger counterparts, Asia’s smaller companies are being viewed in a new light. Factors that had weighed on these businesses are now turning into tailwinds, and we have identified seven key developments which should provide momentum for the asset class.

Enhancing returns from opportunities in global credit

The current environment in fixed income is definitely challenging for investors as the rate cycle has turned. However, we believe that by unlocking the full performance potential of the different credit asset classes achieving positive absolute performance is still possible.

Our scenario is fairly ugly for the 4Q, but has a strong silver lining thereafter. We are not optimistic about the global economy and investor returns reverting to normal for an extended period, but there should be clear intermediate term relief and pockets of strong outperformance due to idiosyncratic advantages.

The world is fast entering the adjustment phase as deglobalisation is accelerating, requiring new solutions and investment to clear new imbalances from energy supply to labour and eventually normalise inflation.

ESG through an Asian equity lens

In recent years, the increased focus on ESG has validated our beliefs. Yet, the complex and fast-changing economies and societies that make up Asia continue to be a challenge confronting investors looking to apply ESG analysis across Asian asset classes. This is a good thing, as investors who can do this successfully will likely add even more value to alpha generation.

On the Ground in Asia-Monthly Insights: Asian Fixed Income-August 2022

Inflationary pressures continued to remain elevated in July, as the headline CPI numbers in South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines increased, while those of Thailand and India moderated. During the month, the central banks of Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and India raised their key policy rates.

The regional index of the MSCI AC Asia ex Japan in August was flat at 0.0% in US dollar terms, recovering after falling into negative territory earlier. The North Asian region was weighed down by foreign currency effects, trailing behind its ASEAN counterpart. India benefitted from its rate hike and lower oil prices.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – August 2022

In an encouraging sign for New Zealand equities, the benchmark NZX 50 Index ended August approximately 10% higher compared to the lows it saw in June, when it dropped below the 11,000 level for the first time in two years. However, the market still faces challenges given that at the end of August the index was also down about 10% compared to the start of 2022.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – August 2022

New Zealand bonds went through a tough period in August. The rough patch reflects continuing uncertainty, with the bond market undecided about whether it should focus on inflation itself or pay more specific attention to the measures that central banks are adopting to deal with it.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (September 2022)

This month we discuss the factors behind Japan’s high level of share buybacks; we also look at the economic implications of COVID in the wake of a particularly large infection wave.

Japan Value Insights: Creating economic wealth by utilising forest resources

Utilising and regenerating Japan’s ample forest resources by promoting a “wood cycle” could contribute to the creation of economic wealth and a net-zero carbon future.

Japan’s “show me the money” corporate governance: 2Q record high

The just-released 2Q CY22 data on aggregate corporate profits in Japan was very positive, with the overall corporate recurring pre-tax profit margin hitting a record high on a four quarter average.

Global Equity Quarterly (Q2 2022)

Our belief is that we have moved into a new regime where inflation will be structurally higher despite the anchors of high debt burdens, ageing societies and ongoing technological disruption.

We are taking a more constructive view in duration overall, as we believe that the markets have largely priced in hawkish Fed expectations. Among the low-yielding countries, we prefer Singapore and Hong Kong, while we like Malaysia and India among the mid- to high-yielding countries. On currencies, we maintain our preference for the Singapore dollar.

It may be easy to become gloomy after the drawdown of the last few months. But we believe that there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for compounding your future capital from today’s levels, if you take into account the following three steps: 1) recognise that that we have shifted to a different road type, and it is rougher and more variable; 2) realise that this new road may be best travelled with different vehicles; and 3) improve your probabilities by sticking to a few enduring principles.

The shift in market narratives continues to gather pace, matching the increase in volatility of the economic cycle seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Central banks are generally aiming to smooth the economic cycle, but this time they may be adding to the volatility of the cycle instead.

Higher commodity prices impacted returns in Asia, while a slip in prices of crude oil and metals benefitted many Asian nations. We expect the future trajectory of inflation to dictate the path of interest rates, which in turn is seen determining economic growth globally.

Asia corporate high yield: Market review and outlook

Asia high yield credit had a tough start to 2022, succumbing to heavy selling pressure . Apart from geopolitical tensions, tighter financial conditions and rising recession risk in major developed economies, sentiment toward Asia HY has been heavily weighed down by sustained stress in China’s property sector. Going forward, we believe the pace of correction will moderate.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (August 2022)

We take a look at the short and long term prospects of Abenomics without Abe, and we also discuss the recent trend of an increasing number of Japanese companies passing on higher costs to consumers and whether this phenomenon can continue.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – July 2022

This month we focus on two ESG-linked themes that generate a significant amount of investor interest: carbon neutrality and modern slavery.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – July 2022

As we have already mentioned several times, it has been a very tough year for New Zealand bonds. Although there is perhaps light at the end of the tunnel after the market hit a very low point; in our view, good quality assets could outperform cash over the medium term.

Global Unconstrained Bond Fund Q3 2022 Outlook

We present our Q3 2022 outlook for the Global Unconstrained Bond Strategy which incorporates our core markets, emerging markets and global credit views.

Asia bonds: Calmer seas ahead

We explain why we are more positive on Asia bonds than we were at the beginning of 2022. To begin with, inflation in Asia is less severe compared to other regions, lessening the need for Asian central banks to tighten aggressively. This makes Asia bonds attractive from a real yield perspective.

The East and West appear to be headed in different directions. The East may benefit from China’s easing and supportive growth characteristics. Meanwhile, the West is mired in slowing growth, excessive levels of inflation and central banks ever more eager to take down inflation through conventional tool kits designed to slow demand.

Inflationary pressures accelerated in May across the region, due to higher transport and food prices. We maintain our preference for Malaysian bonds, as we believe that inflation will be better contained in Malaysia compared to other countries.

New Zealand Fixed Income Monthly – June 2022

As New Zealand grapples with inflation and the spectre of a recession, we highlight the impact increasing mortgage rates may have on consumer spending. This is an important theme as it ties in with how we need to consider absolute interest rate levels.

New Zealand Equity Monthly – June 2022

As in the rest of the world, times are tough for New Zealand’s economy. Even so, given that stagflation occurs when higher inflation is combined with slower economic growth and rising unemployment, New Zealand is contending with the negative growth and inflationary aspects of stagflation without the accompanying unemployment issues.

Our view on Japan’s upper house election

As it often is when Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party wins an election by an impressive amount, the initial equity market reaction was positive. But the ramifications of the ruling party’s upper house election victory will in the intermediate term be a function of what happens to the global economy and geopolitics in the months and quarters ahead.

Navigating Japan Equities: Monthly Insights from Tokyo (July 2022)

We take a look at why the Bank of Japan is likely to stick to its easy monetary policy even as other central banks embark on policy tightening; we also highlight the signs of a full-fledged capex recovery taking place in Japan.