A Whole New World for International Investing

February 14, 2017

2016 was a lackluster year for GDP growth in the US, early estimates put 4th quarter estimates at 1.9% with a full year estimate at 1.6%. This is significantly lower than the 4% growth rate the president has targeted for 2017 and is much closer to estimates of an approximately 2.0-2.2% GDP growth rate in 2017 by several international groups.

USGDP Q416

 

2017GDP Est 2.9.17
Sources: www. knoema.com/qhswwkc/us-gdp-growth-forecast-2015-2019-and-up-to-2060-data-and-charts, www.whitehouse.gov/bringing-back-jobs-and-growth

That is not to say the major infrastructure spending that is being proposed, the possibility of corporate tax reform and repatriation of billions in overseas cash will not have an impact on short term growth rates. The questions are how long is it sustainable and what are the risks to the market if we see GDP slow?

For many investors, international markets have a more appealing long term growth story when faced with 2% growth. The IMF has a 1.9% growth projection for the Advanced Economies (Including the US) and a 4.5% growth projection for emerging and developing (frontier) markets.  An accelerated growth rate and a large young population of people striving for a better life are several points investors continue champion when making allocations to emerging markets. Our D.A.L.I. model currently has international equities in the number two position behind US equities with the emerging markets, specifically Latin America showing stronger indicators than the majority developed regions.

DALI INT 2.9.17

 

 

 

 

The problem that many face when making international allocations is do they stick to the less volatile developed markets or do they dip their toe into riskier emerging and frontier market countries that have the potential for higher returns? It is our opinion that an either or philosophy will not be a winning strategy, if you bind yourself to only developed or emerging markets you are leaving returns on the table.  Below is a relative strength chart of emerging markets (EEM) vs. developed markets (EFA) over that past 10 years.  Each market experienced different period of strength. By widening your investment universe you can rotate markets as the trend shifts over time allowing for the opportunity of a better risk adjusted return.

EEMEFA RS CHART

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The added portfolio diversification achieved by including emerging alongside developed markets is notable. When looking at asset correlations between 1/1/2009 to 12/31/2016 shifting from developed only (EFA) to global ex US (ACWX) which has a 16% allocation to emerging markets reduced correlation by almost 5% against US large cap equities (SPY) and US small cap equities (IWM) by 2.5%. Holding just emerging markets (EEM) for your international allocation is the best tool for diversification in this example, with only a 0.57 correlation to large and small cap equities. However this over exposes you to a high volatility asset that some investors would not be comfortable in for long periods of time.

Correlation of Asset Classes

Int Corr 2.9.2017

 

 

 

 

In our SRS International strategy we have chosen to widen our investable universe to include the global ex US market. The wider universe allows for the ability to select from more securities that have higher technical attributes. Over the past 10 years we have used Relative Strength as a main factor to find the best performing securities agnostic to developed and emerging markets.

SRS INT EMDM Allocation

 

As shown above, nearly 70% of our Systematic RS International strategy is currently allocated to emerging markets. This however was not the case in 2012 when emerging markets only held 30% of the portfolio. Flexibility, especially when it comes to international equity exposure can make a big difference in investment returns if you are willing to expand your investable universe.

Nothing contained herein should be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any se­curity. This report does not attempt to examine all the facts and circumstances which may be relevant to any company, industry or security mentioned herein. We are not soliciting any action based on this document. It is for the general information of clients of Dorsey, Wright & Associates, LLC (“Dorsey, Wright & Associates”). This document does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Before acting on any analysis, advice or recommendation in this document, clients should consider whether the security or strategy in question is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if neces­sary, seek professional advice.  The relative strength strategy is NOT a guarantee.  There may be times where all investments and strategies are unfavorable and depreciate in value.  Relative Strength is a measure of price momentum based on historical price activity.  Relative Strength is not predictive and there is no assurance that forecasts based on relative strength can be relied upon.   Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.

 

 

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Diversification and Asset Class Rotation

February 7, 2017

Diversification is the cornerstone of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT), introduced by Harry Markowitz in 1952, with the goal of achieving higher risk-adjusted returns overtime.  The problem with diversification is that it works great until the markets are dominated by one asset class for multi-year stretches. This is what we have seen for the past four years as the S&P 500 Index SPX has climbed to new highs and has continued to extend our current bull run. If your portfolios have diversified away from US equities during this time, you have more than likely under performed on a total return basis. This often raises the question from clients of “What have you done for me lately that I cannot do myself with SPY?” What many investors tend to forget is that market cycles change and so too does leadership.

The chart below is a take on the classic Callan chart with 11 asset class returns over a 16 year period. In this chart we compare 10 asset classes to large cap equities (S&P 500), which is held in a static position on the chart.

 

2017-01-27_12-42-09

(performance data in the image above from FactSet from 12/31/99 – 12/31/16)

For the last four years, US equities have been the best place to invest. In the prior 12 years, however, you would have been well-served incorporating other asset classes. In fact, during the 2000-2001 and 2008-2009 downturns you would have been better off owning almost anything other than Large Cap equities. Going forward, is Large Cap equity domination going to continue, or are we going to see markets revert back to pre-2013 distribution of returns?  One of the tools that can help you in evaluating both current leadership and potential opportunities is the Dynamic Asset Level Investing (D.A.L.I) ® tool. On a high level, D.A.L.I uses relative strength to rank six asset classes, and then allows you to delve into sub-asset class opportunities for each. The result is an unbiased, objective view of the markets that is adaptive to change.

Our Systematic Relative Strength Global Macro Portfolio is another solution that is easy to utilize at numerous custodians and trading platforms. The Portfolio provides broad diversification across markets, sectors, styles, Fixed Income, Currencies, Commodities as well as inverse domestic and international equities. The Portfolio is positioned to efficiently take advantage of risk capital globally where leadership trends are compelling. For the past four years we have seen a large allocation to US equity markets, although this has not always been the case.

GM Allocation

If you would like more information on the Dorsey Wright SMA or would like a handout copy of the charts in this presentation please contact Andy Hyer at andyh@dorseymm.com.

The relative strength strategy is not a guarantee.  There may be times where all investments and strategies are unfavorable and depreciate in value.  Relative strength is a measure of price momentum based on historical activity.  Relative strength is not predictive and there is no assurance that forecasts based on relative strength can be relied upon.

 

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To constrain or not constrain?

January 4, 2017

Fixed income allocations continue to be a major question in client portfolios. Do you continue to hold traditional long term bonds that will price deteriorate as rates rise with the hopes that clients will be able to hold them to maturity, or do you layer in differentiating bond funds that generate returns through multiple asset classes? Bloomberg wrote:

Donald Trump’s election has reignited the prospects for inflation and growth both in the U.S. and abroad, which will likely lead to higher interest rates and spell the end of the bond market’s three-decade Bull Run.

And that will favor funds that can go wherever the highest returns are — without constraints on maturity, geography or even credit quality.

The buy and hold methodology gives you reliable income flows with the possibility of price deterioration as rates rise. While the multi asset class funds give you more ways to protect your downside and generate upside, which comes with higher volatility and ever-changing sector allocations.

It is our belief that the ability to move between sector allocations will be key moving forward into 2017 as the world continues to change. Unlike most unconstrained bond funds however that shy away from long term bonds, we believe that long Treasuries, at times, are a valuable holding.  Our Tactical Fixed Income strategy can hold up to 40% in long term government exposure, along with the ability to hold convertible bonds, short-term Treasuries, emerging market debt, TIPs, high yield and Investment grade Corporates.

If you would like more information on our fixed income strategy please reach out to Andyh@dorseymm.com.

Dorsey, Wright & Associates, LLC, a Nasdaq Company, is a registered investment advisory firm.  Neither the information within this article, nor any opinion expressed shall constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation or an offer to buy any securities, commodities or exchange traded products. This article does not purport to be complete description of the securities or commodities, markets or developments to which reference is made.  Past performance, hypothetical or actual, does not guarantee future results. In all securities trading there is a potential for loss as well as profit. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance as shown. Investors should have long-term financial objectives.  Advice from a financial professional is strongly advised.

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Looking to 2017

December 30, 2016

As we close out 2017 the final week of the year the markets have not been as cooperative as investors would have liked.  The markets have pulled back from historic highs and the Dow was not able to hit the elusive 20,000 mark. Looking forward to 2017 here are several issues that may impact clients and markets.

Political

New President: President elect Trump takes the oath of office on Friday January 20th in Washington, D.C.  The US markets have reacted mostly positive to the Trump election based on promises of lower taxes, faster growth and more US based jobs. Here is a link if you would like more information on the inauguration.

Tensions with Russia?: Obama announced sanctions against Russia yesterday afternoon and expelled 35 Russian official in response to the allegations of Russian cyber-attacks during the election. Russia has not yet retaliated but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov “We of course cannot leave these stunts unanswered. Reciprocity is the law in diplomacy and international relations.”

Social Security

Tax cap increase: Workers and employers each pay in 6.2% of wages into the Social Security system until the salary cap of $118,500. In 2017 the tax rate will stay the same but the cap is being raised to $127,200 to adjust for higher wages in the US.

Payments increase: The cost of living adjustment for 2017 will be a modest 0.3% or about $5 per month. This increase is in line with 2016  which did not see any raise. Increases to Social security are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

Earning Limits: The earnings limit for people  65 and younger will increase from $15,720 in 2016 to $16,920 in 2017. While those who turn 66 in 2017 the limit increases by $3,000 to $44,880.

For a full list of changes, here is the 2017 Social Security Changes Fact Sheet.

Currency

China: China is trying to reduce the impact of the Dollar on the Yuan as the Yuan trades at an eight year low. They are introducing 11 more countries into its currency basket.

Euro: The Financial Times polled 28 economists and over 60% believe that the Euro and dollar will hit parity next year for the first time in 14 years. Rising interest rates in the US and continued QE in Europe are thought to be two of the main factors in the shift.

Dorsey, Wright & Associates, LLC, a Nasdaq Company, is a registered investment advisory firm

 Neither the information within this article, nor any opinion expressed shall constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation or an offer to buy any securities, commodities or exchange traded products. This article does not purport to be complete description of the securities or commodities, markets or developments to which reference is made.

Past performance, hypothetical or actual, does not guarantee future results. In all securities trading there is a potential for loss as well as profit. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance as shown. Investors should have long-term financial objectives.  Advice from a financial professional is strongly advised.

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All I want for Christmas is… low volatility?

December 23, 2016

The month of December sees some of the lowest volume trade days of the year. People are on vacation, holiday parties are in full swing and allocations for the next year are being finalized. S&P 500 volatility has also decided it wants to take a step back from the roller coaster of the year. VIX futures hit a 16 month low on Wednesday to 10.97, a level not seen since August of 2015.

The VIX had sharp increase in volatility leading up to the election, post-election it has been on a sharp decline following the announcement that Trump beat Clinton.

vix-price-12-22-2016

With the S&P 500 trading almost flat for the week as of market close on December 22nd  and today shaping up to be another non eventful day, all eyes will be looking to the markets next week. In the next week we will see the final tax loss trades of the Obama Presidency and we may even see the Dow Jones finally break through 20,000.
Investors cannot invest directly in an index. Indexes have no fees. Past Performance is not indicative of future results. Potential for profits is accompanies by possibility of loss.

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The roller coaster ride of oil

December 1, 2016

Millions of American every year pay a hefty sum of money to be thrilled by some of the world’s fastest rollercoasters. The feeling of being suspended above the world as you climb higher and higher only to have crashing down is an amazing feeling.  If you have not conquered the rational part of your brain that says that it is not logical to put yourself in those metal contraptions I highly recommend a trip to your local amusement park. Another option has been to stay long oil over the past year, below is a chart showing roller coaster ride of Brent Crude Futures over the past year.

brent-cude-chart-1-year-11-30-2016

In January we hit the bottom turn of the roller coaster and analysts did not have a consensus on oils next direction.

“The price of Brent crude fell to $27.67 a barrel at one point, its lowest since 2003, while US crude fell as low as $28.36.

Many analysts have slashed their 2016 oil price forecasts, with Morgan Stanley analysts saying that “oil in the $20s is possible”, if China devalues its currency further.

Economists at the Royal Bank of Scotland say that oil could fall to $16, while Standard Chartered predicts that prices could hit just $10 a barrel.”1

Looking back now it was just a market overreaction. The client calls and excessive worry that the world was slowing down are now just a bad memory. Since the bottom in January: oil prices have recovered, China is still growing at a respectable rate and Latin America did not fall apart as many people feared. After the OPEC meeting yesterday we saw oil prices once again climb above $50.00 to close out the day over 8% ahead.  Today as of writing this the Brent Crude markets are up over 3% and gasoline futures are up over 5%. While we do not how the cuts to oil production that have been approved will happen or if the countries involved will follow through, we have a short term relief in the energy market’s low prices.

In our Aggressive SRS mode we rotated two additional energy names into the model in the past month allowing us to capitalize on the energy spike, while at the start of the year we held no energy names going into the January selloff.  That account is a concentrated portfolio (20-25 holdings). Two of our energy names were up mid 20% and a third was up 10%. Needless to say, we haven’t seen a day like today since Hurricane Katrina caused all the refiners to have problems.  The long term goal like every other money manager is to outperform our index, while that does not always happen in short time periods, days like yesterday are the reason you invest for longer periods and follow your investment thesis.

If you would like more information on our Systematic RS Aggressive Portfolio, please e-mail andyh@dorseymm.com or call 626-535-0630. Andy will also be hosting a webinar on Friday December 2, 2016 at 2 PM ET introducing our family of Systematic Relative Strength Portfolios.

 Upcoming Events

Please join Andy Hyer, Client Portfolio Manager at DWA, for an introduction to our family of Systematic Relative Strength Portfolios on Friday, December 2nd at 2 p.m. ET.  These portfolios provide disciplined access to relative strength strategies including U.S. Equities, International Equities, Fixed Income, and Global Macro and are available on UMA and SMA strategies at a large and growing number of firms.  Click here to register for the webinar. The event password is dwadwa.

 

This example is presented for illustrative purposes only and does not represent a past or present recommendation.  The relative strength strategy is NOT a guarantee.  There may be times where all investments and strategies are unfavorable and depreciate in value.  The performance above is based on pure price returns, not inclusive of dividends, fees, or other expenses.  Past performance is not indicative of future results.  Potential for profits is accompanied by possibility of loss.

1 West, Matthew. “Just How Low Can Oil Prices Go and Who Is Hardest Hit?” BBC News. January 18, 2016. Accessed December 01, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35245133.

 

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Recap of November so far

November 25, 2016

As we recover from the great national holiday of turkey, family and football we see the world of securities start to slow down. According to Market Watch the days before and after Thanksgiving make up two of the five slowest trade days for the year. This slow down allows us time to reflect on what we have seen so far in the month of November.  So far this month we have seen:

  • The Cubs win the World Series for the first time in 108 years
  • Donald Trump gets elected President of the United States
  • Major earthquakes hit Fukushima, Japan in similar fashion to the 2013 triple disaster
  • Vin Scully us award the Presidential Medal of Freedom

We have also seen global markets increase volatility from fear of a changing trade environment, US equity markets have a surprise rally in the wake of possible corporate tax reform and US interest rates start to climb. Looking forward we will continue to have major events as the global markets will need to digest what policies the new president will put into place and what Brexit is going to really look like for the EU.

We will continue to hit these bumps in the road, but we need to plan for the full journey and not focus on the potholes along the way. People fled from Latin American banks over the past couple of weeks resulting in a rough patch for our International accounts. Over the past week we followed our game plan of watching the signals and trusting our process. The results have been a strong week of outperformance vs. our benchmark; we continue to be very happy about how this strategy has performed compared to its benchmark over time. The process while it does not have the sizzle of a hot stock picker does have a great story of out performance over full market cycles and exposure to places in the world that an individual investor often does not have the knowledge to invest.

When talking to clients, friends and family this holiday season I always like to have a good story. The story this year is about finding value in places others have abandoned out of fear or taking a step back, staying true to a thoughtful investment thesis.

If you are interested to learn more about our investment thesis in our International strategy,  Andy Hyer can be reached at andyh@dorseymm.com or 626 535-0630

Charles Coleman
Associate Portfolio Manager
Dorsey Wright & Associates

The relative strength strategy is NOT a guarantee.  There may be times where all investments and strategies are unfavorable and depreciate in value.

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