Global Value

Market Commentary

Period ended June 30, 2019
 

MARKET COMMENTARY

The MSCI World Index returned +4.0% in the second quarter and is now up +17.0% since the beginning of the year, fully recouping its losses from the fourth quarter of 2018.  An increasingly dovish tone from central banks, most notably the US Federal Reserve, contributed to positive equity markets.  Fed Chairman Jay Powell indicated a readiness to lower interest rates for the first time in more than a decade, and the futures market is pricing in a high likelihood of a rate cut during the Fed’s next meeting. In addition, geopolitical tensions subsided, as the US reached a deal with Mexico to halt proposed tariffs, and US-China trade talks resumed.  All MSCI World sectors were positive except energy, as crude oil prices declined by 3% in the quarter.  Growth again outpaced value, further widening the valuation gap.  Over the past five years, the MSCI World Growth Index has more than doubled the MSCI World Value Index, returning +54% compared to +22%, cumulatively. 

A top-down view would suggest that the global equity markets are fairly valued.  However, this is far from a normal market; significant valuation differences exist within and between sectors, geographies and even asset classes.  On the one hand, the market’s valuation suggests that investors have a reasonably healthy risk appetite.  On the other hand, certain attributes imply that investors are exceptionally risk averse.  A glaring example is the negative yield on some country’s government debt, like German bunds, where investors are guaranteed to lose money if held to maturity.  A preference for a small, yet certain loss over a wider range of outcomes exemplifies extreme risk aversion.  This risk aversion is borne out in global equity markets through a comparison of different sectors.  Sectors with low economic sensitivity and stable earnings streams have outperformed sectors believed to be more cyclical.  Regulated utilities, for example, are largely insulated from economic slowdowns and exhibit more stable earnings than most other businesses.  Investors looking to position themselves defensively have been drawn to the sector, driving share price performance and P/E multiple expansion (10% over the past year alone). The P/E ratio for the MSCI World’s utilities now stands at 17x.  This is arguably a rich price to pay for a sector with modest prospects for growth, and as a result we do not view this as being a safe investment.  The long-term upside potential is likely minimal.  Most REITs, consumer staples, and healthcare companies exhibit a similarly unappealing long-term risk-reward tradeoff. 

In many cases, banks and other financials trade at half the valuation of the non-cyclical markets segments.  Select companies within industrials, technology, and energy also trade at substantial discounts to their intrinsic values.  These sectors may have a higher correlation with economic cycles than non-cyclicals, but valuations render the long-term return prospects more appealing irrespective of near-term economic growth. Businesses with strong balance sheets that are well-positioned competitively should be able to sustain and grow their value through the full economic cycle. Some may even enhance their value at the expense of weaker peers during times of economic volatility. In our view, these types of businesses represent compelling investment opportunities.

The wide dichotomy between undervalued and overvalued pockets of the market has facilitated a portfolio that trades at a large valuation discount to the market, in our view, without assuming undue risk.  The portfolio trades at 6.7x normal earnings compared to 16.3x for MSCI World Index.  It trades at 1.0x book value compared to 2.3x for the MSCI World Index.  This valuation discount combined with healthy balance sheets and good underlying businesses has us confident about the portfolio’s prospects as we look forward.  

ATTRIBUTION: 2Q 2019

The Hotchkis & Wiley Global Value portfolio (gross and net of management fees) performed in line with the MSCI World Index in the quarter.  Growth stocks outperformed value stocks, more so outside the US.  This is a detractor to relative performance considering our value focused investment style.  Large/mega cap stocks outperformed small/mid cap stocks, which was another stylistic headwind for the strategy, which invests across the cap spectrum.  The overweight position and stock selection in energy also hurt relative performance.  The overweight position and positive stock selection in industrials helped performance in the quarter, along with positive stock selection in consumer discretionary and consumer staples.  The largest positive contributors to relative performance in the quarter were WestJet Airlines, AIG, Adient, Discovery, and Hitachi; the largest detractors were Whiting Petroleum, Royal Mail, National Oilwell Varco, Danieli, and Credito Valtellinese.  

LARGEST NEW PURCHASES: 2Q 2019

Royal Bank of Scotland was rescued by the UK government during the financial crisis. After shedding numerous non-core businesses and shrinking its balance sheet considerably, RBS has re-focused on its core strengths in consumer and commercial banking in the UK. The business is well positioned competitively and generates high returns on capital. RBS is significantly over-capitalized versus its own targets and peers and is expected to increase its returns of capital to shareholders. RBS’ share price has been negatively impacted by Brexit-related fears and the overhang from the UK government’s remaining holdings. The shares trade at a discount to tangible book value and a low multiple of normalized earnings.

Unicredit is the largest bank headquartered in Italy.  In addition to being the #2 Italian bank by market share, Unicredit also has significant banking operations in Germany, Austria and a number of Central and Eastern European countries. Shares in the bank have underperformed due to market concerns about the ongoing pressure on bank profitability from low rates and slow economic growth in Europe.  As one of the largest banks in Italy, investment sentiment for Unicredit has also been negatively impacted by ongoing political instability and the resultant impact on Italian sovereign rates. Following a period of restructuring, the balance sheet is well capitalized, asset quality is improved, and profitability is recovering.

Composite performance for the strategy is located on the Performance tab. Returns discussed can differ from actual portfolio returns due to intraday trades, cash flows, corporate actions, accrued/miscellaneous income, and trade price and closing price difference of any given security. Portfolio characteristics and attribution based on representative Global Value portfolio. Certain client portfolio(s) may or may not hold the securities discussed due to each account’s guideline restrictions, cash flow, tax and other relevant considerations. Equity performance attribution is an analysis of the portfolio's return relative to a selected benchmark, is calculated using daily holding information and does not reflect management fees and other transaction costs and expenses.  Specific securities identified are the largest contributors (or detractors) to the portfolio’s performance relative to the MSCI World Index. Other securities may have been the best and worst performers on an absolute basis.  The “Largest New Purchases” section includes the three largest new security positions during the quarter based on the security’s quarter-end weight adjusted for its relative return contribution; does not include any security received as a result of a corporate action; if fewer than three new security positions during the quarter, all new security positions are included.  Securities identified do not represent all of the securities purchased or sold for advisory clients, and are not indicative of current or future holdings or trading activity.  H&W has no obligation to disclose purchases or sales of the securities.  No assurance is made that any securities identified, or all investment decisions by H&W were or will be profitable. The value discipline used in managing accounts in the Global Value strategy may prevent or limit investment in major stocks in the MSCI World, MSCI World Value and MSCI World Growth indices and returns may not be correlated to the indexes. Quarterly characteristics and portfolio holdings are available on the Characteristics and Literature tabs. For a list showing every holding’s contribution to the overall account’s performance and portfolio activity for a given time period, please contact H&W at hotchkisandwiley@hwcm.com.  Portfolio information is subject to the firm’s portfolio holdings disclosure policy.
 
The commentary is for information purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product.  Portfolio managers’ opinions and data included in this commentary are as of June 30, 2019 and are subject to change without notice.  Any forecasts made cannot be guaranteed.  Information obtained from independent sources is considered reliable, but H&W cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Certain information presented is based on proprietary or third-party estimates, which are subject to change and cannot be guaranteed. Equity securities may have greater risks and price volatility than U.S. Treasuries and bonds, where the price of these securities may decline due to various company, industry and market factors.  Investing in value stocks presents the risk that value stocks may fall out of favor with investors and underperform growth stocks during a given period. The strategy invests in foreign securities which involve greater volatility and political, economic and currency risks and differences in accounting methods. All investments contain risk and may lose value. MSCI makes no express or implied warranties or representations and shall have no liability whatsoever with respect to any MSCI data contained herein. The MSCI data may not be further redistributed or used as a basis for other indices or any securities or financial products. This report is not approved, reviewed, or produced by MSCI. See www.hwcm.com/definitions for full disclaimer.
 
Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
 

Index definitions