8 min read | by Rich McCormick and Elijah Crago | Investor pessimism on the ground in Brazil has reached an extreme relative to the past decade – but where negative sentiment exists, there may also be value. The return to power of a leftist president, anti-business rhetoric, and interest rates back at decade highs have turned many investors away altogether – resulting in some of the lowest valuations in the world. Upon returning from a recent two-week trip to Brazil, we are excited by the investment opportunities emerging in the country.
10 min read | Equities delivered strong gains during the first quarter as investors shrugged off two of the three largest bank failures in US history and the collapse of once venerable Credit Suisse. The proximate cause for the rally is a belief that inflation risk is vanquished, interest rates have peaked, years of extraordinary financial stimulus can be normalized painlessly, and the global economy will not experience a downturn. This implies a tremendous amount of confidence in policymakers.
10 min read | Global markets recovered strongly during the fourth quarter, aided by falling inflation expectations, optimism that the US Federal Reserve would move away from aggressive policy tightening, an improved energy outlook in Europe, and President Xi’s unexpected decision to unwind zero-COVID policies. The rally was certainly welcomed, but 2022 was the most challenging year since the global financial crisis. According to Michael Howell of CrossBorder Capital, global investors lost US$23T of wealth in housing and financial assets in 2022, equivalent to 22% of global GDP and greater than the US$18T of losses suffered in the 2008 financial crisis. Commodities were the only refuge, as long-term bonds had their worst year since the 18th century (according to the Financial Times) and and equities fell 18.1% in 2022 (MSCI World Index), as measured in US dollars.
2 min read | by Glenn Cunningham | I recently attended the Industrial Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago to gain further insight into the technology and industrial industry ecosystems. Discussions at the show reinforced a number of key themes that we have independently identified through our bottom-up research. Broadly speaking, these include the need for more automation due to skilled labor shortages, the costs and benefits of supply chain fragmentation, and the growing integration of technology across the industrial landscape.
The downturn in markets continued during the third quarter as concerns over tightening monetary policy, inflationary pressures, weakening economic growth, and geopolitical risks intensified. Despite strong gains early in the quarter, the MSCI EAFE Index declined 9.4% (as measured in US dollars), ending approximately 27% below peak levels reached in September 2021. The Altrinsic International Equity portfolio declined 9.8% over the same period.
Greed has given way to fear. We have not reached a stage of extreme capitulation, liquidity unwinds, or distress, but fear emanating from headlines and market declines is reflected in poor investor sentiment and the growing presence of value.
International equities delivered their worst quarterly performance since the European sovereign debt crisis as uncertainty stemming from inflationary concerns, tightening central bank policies, and rising recession risk weighed on markets. The Altrinsic International Equity portfolio declined 11.5% during the second quarter, outperforming the MSCI EAFE Index’s 14.5% decline, as measured in US dollars. Outperformance was derived from all major industry exposures except real estate and utilities. Japanese and European-based companies with meaningful US dollar exposure were notable outperformers, benefiting from the relative strength of the US dollar versus most other currencies. We take no consolation in our relative outperformance during this painful drawdown. Near-term macro data and corporate earnings will likely be disappointing, but we are confident in our positioning and encouraged by the investment propositions offered by a growing number of companies with strong long-term fundamentals and attractive valuations.
8 min read | by Rich McCormick | I spent two weeks in June traveling throughout Europe, engaging with a range of old and new contacts – political leaders, regulators, and management teams from over 40 companies in the insurance, banking, fintech, and industrial sectors. Throughout the trip and upon my return, I kept this journal of the most significant takeaways and implications for our portfolio positioning – some reinforcements to previously-held beliefs and a few surprises.
1 min read | Stock-based compensation (SBC) in the technology sector has proliferated in recent years, driven by the war for talent and a period marked by low cost of capital, plentiful access to capital, and rising valuations. The challenge comes when decade-long market tailwinds begin to change direction. The virtuous cycle of aggressive stock issuance to employees, elevated ‘adjusted’ earnings, rising stock prices, and strong employee engagement can become vicious when it unwinds.
The Altrinsic International Equity portfolio declined 1.5% during the first quarter, outperforming the MSCI EAFE Index’s 5.9% decline, as measured in US dollars. Just as most nations began lifting COVID-related restrictions and returning to normal, tensions intensified amidst surging inflationary pressures, tightening policy measures in the US, lockdowns in China, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.