Weekly Market Update (Issue 482) – 19 January 2018

19th  January 2018, 13.35pm

Weekly Market Update

Global share-markets are racing out the gate in January, but lagging at the back of the pack is the ASX200.

No amount of optimism in US, European and Asian share-markets could get Aussie shares higher this week, and the ASX200 now sits as the worst performing major index in January, down -1% and significantly worse than the +5-7% gains in Asia and the U.S, and +3% rise in Europe.

We published our ‘Year Ahead’ piece earlier in the week, and again highlighted our expectation that Australian shares would lag their foreign peer group in 2018.

Again, it’s a function of the composition of our market, with incumbent monopolist businesses such as banks, telecoms and retail all ripe for disruption and lacking in revenue growth.

All that being said, I have entered the year in positive spirits and I do think the ASX200 will push higher in the first 6 months of the year.

The Aussie economy really kicked into gear late in 2017, and we are likely to see some really quite optimistic forward statements from senior management over the course of reporting season in February.

I think we will see net earnings upgrades, with most exposure in those industries and sectors most exposed to the uptick. Oil and metals will see upgrades, but more interestingly we should see domestic industrials pointing to a rosier outlook.

We added Downer (DOW) and APN Outdoor (APO) to our recommended portfolio’s in the past week, and really like where they are headed in 2018. SEEK (SEK) is just a brilliant portfolio asset right now, and we would also highlight that we expect a strong 2018 from QUBE (QUB) on several fronts.

More local economic optimism

This week the Westpac Consumer Confidence survey boomed to a 4-year high.

This is notable since Australian households continue to labour under an extreme level of indebtedness (now 200% of income).

What was great about the confidence figures was that the rising optimism was right across the board, with Western Australian’s and Queenslander’s joining the fray, and ‘over-45’s’ also feeling better about the world, no doubt encouraged by the rise in their investment portfolios.

Employment is rising and I think wage growth is now set to turn – December employment this week was good. Despite the massive debt, consumers seem heartened by the improving income picture, and to my mind will be further encouraged by likely talk of tax cuts from the Federal Liberal party in 2018.

For now, the confidence genie is out of the bottle and I think it’s time to feel good about the local economy in 2018.

We’re not flying, but the glass is now half-full.

Notable this week – bonds, oil and AUD

Bond yields continued to ratchet higher, wary of the strength in global economic momentum.

Australian 10-year bond yields are up to a 6-month high at 2.85% this week (low of 1.85% mid-2016) and U.S 10-year yields more notably at 2.65% and a 4-year high.

The tide is turning on bonds and we think this will become more of an issue for equity markets later in 2018. Nearer term though, we are staying well clear of interest-rate sensitive sectors such as property and utilities.

Oil is now at a 3-year high, and in some small way having its own impact on higher bond yields (inflation).

Stronger demand from a racy global economy alongside supply discipline from major producers has contributed to drag US oil inventories down significantly, and back to their lowest since February 2015.

Oil prices should remain underpinned by strong demand in 2018, however it does feel inevitable that the longer prices trade in the $60-70/barrel range the more likely we will see a supply response from US shale producers, the vast majority of whom will be making very good money at these levels.

For this reason, though comfortable with oil for now, we think there will be opportunities to take profits in Woodside (WPL) nearer to a $36-38 price level (10% higher).

The Australian Dollar jumped back through 80c again this week, buoyed by the strong local economic data. It continues to surprise us on the upside, though we really do feel hard-pressed to call it any higher here, particularly with the ever-escalating pile of iron ore building on Chinese ports.

Fund Management equities – BT Investment Management (BTT) & IOOF (IFL)

We have long favoured this particular sector, in large part because we are drawn to the long-term secular growth from mandated superannuation.

Our recent recommendation in BTT has gotten off to a flyer, but frustratingly like Platinum (PTM) last year, the stock bounced very hard and not as many clients were able to get on board as we liked.

This week we had BTT report its December funds under management and it was fine without being outstanding. BTT suffered larger net outflows at both its BTIM Australian business (legacy Westpac outflows on low margin so not a major deal at all) and within JO Hambro (lost mandate).

Performance fees however came in on the higher side, negating the outflow.

If you haven’t bought BTT yet, be patient, since we think there will again be opportunities to BUY the shares back in the mid-$10’s again.

IOOF (IFL) will release their funds under management numbers in the coming 10 days.

I flag this simply because we are keen to re-add IFL to portfolio’s in time and at the right price, since we feel very good about the coming few years of earnings momentum following IFL’s acquisition of the ANZ Wealth assets late last year for a shade under $1bn.

Keep this one on the radar.

Update on some recommended Managed Fund performance

We haven’t made explicit mention of some of the performance of some of our recommended managed funds in quite some time, but pleasingly can report on some excellent figures across a variety of asset classes in recent months.

The Platinum Asia (PLA0004AU) fund which comprises over 10% of our PRIME International Growth SMA (approximately 4-5% of total portfolios) is +22% in the past 6-months, benefiting from the stronger performance of Asian markets.

Our other international fund managers are also doing well with each of the Magellan, Antipodes and MFS funds all +9-12% in the past 6 months, and the Orbis fund doing even better, +16%.

The new VGI Partners (VG1) fund has traded well since its listing and is +5%, though very early in its investment, and having only invested 45% of funds as at the end of last month.

Contango Global Growth (CQG) has been a problem ever since listing, and in large part down to the nature of the listing, not the performance of the underlying fund manager.

Managers to the CQG issue had hoped to raise well over $200m for the fund, which is being managed by high-quality fund managers WCM in Laguna Beach, CA, but instead raised under half that, leaving CQG to suffer from a liquidity discount from day 1.

This is disappointing and frustrating, but I would like to encourage all holders of the stock to persist since a) the underlying assets of the fund are worth $1.09 or more currently, plus the option value granted at IPO, and b) we are in constant discussions with the fund manager as to our views over how best to narrow this current discount and achieve the prevailing asset value for unit holders.

Our preferred ‘alternative’ fund manager, Winton Global Alpha Fund has kicked into gear this past half-year too, and is +11% with +nearly +4% of that coming in January thus far.

Lastly, our preferred property investment vehicle, the AMP Capital Australian Property Fund did precisely what it set out to do, and delivered a +7% return in 2017.

Next week we will send out our weekly on Thursday ahead of the Australia Day weekend.

Jono & Guy

Interest Rate Commentary & Update

For full interest rate commentary and updates please click here

19th   January 2018, 11:30am values

Australian Market Index

 IndexChange%
All Ordinaries 6130 -54 -0.9
S&P / ASX 200 6015 -63 -1.0
Property Trust Index 1364 -5 -0.4
Utilities Index 7947 -155 -1.9
Financials Index 6484 -53 -0.8
Materials Index 11769 -215 -1.8
Energy Index 10812 -358 -3.2


Key Dates: Australian Companies

Mon 22nd January N/A
Tue 23rd January Div Pay Date – Ishares Asia (IAA), Vanguard ETF’s (VEU, VTS)

Reports – Oil Search (OSH) production
Wed 24th January N/A
Thu 25th January N/A
Fri 26th January N/A

 

International Market Index

Thursday Closing Values

 IndexChange%
U.S. S&P 500 2798 +31 +1.1
London’s FTSE 7701 -61 -0.8
Japan Nikkie 23763 +75 +0.3
Hang Seng 32122 +1002 +3.2
China Shanghai 3475 +50 +1.5
    

 

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Disclaimer: This information has been prepared by Primestock Securities Limited ABN 67 089 676 068, AFSL 239180 (“Prime”). Prime accepts no obligation to correct or update the information or opinions in it. This information does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate to your situation. It is recommended that you obtain financial, legal and taxation advice before making any financial investment decision. Prime is bound by the Australian Privacy Principles for the handling of personal information.

This information has been prepared by Primestock Securities Limited ABN 67 089 676 068, AFSL 239180 (“Prime”). Prime accepts no obligation to correct or update the information or opinions in it. This information does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, you should consider whether it is appropriate to your situation. It is recommended that you obtain financial, legal and taxation advice before making any financial investment decision. Prime is bound by the Australian Privacy Principles for the handling of personal information.

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