The Lead - "The Importance of Balance Sheets"
- The current economic environment highlights the value of cash to businesses with 306 equity issuances totaling $99 billion in the U.S. this quarter, according to Bloomberg.
- One area where our investment pillars blend to the potential benefit of our clients is when strong balance sheets and valuation can combine to create opportunity, and we can adjust our assessment of valuations accordingly.
- Cash-rich companies in the S&P 500® are unique, with only 16% that have more cash than debt on their balance sheets and Sterling equity strategies own the majority of the top 5 in the index ranked in terms of total net cash.
The Lead - "Looking for More Internationally"
- The case for international equity outperformance based on valuation alone has been a challenging one.
- If an investor overlays relative earnings growth with valuation, the combination has the potential to increase the probability of success.
- The Equity Opportunities Group defines a “good bargain” as one that has the combination of growth and value in favored themes worldwide.
The Lead - "Can Culture Generate Performance?"
- As active managers, part of our investment process can involve interviewing management teams to determine if their corporate culture enables them to adapt to challenging periods, such as early 2020.
- We provide an example from a recent management discussion in April.
- Glassdoor provides a tool to measure corporate cultures and academic studies, such as those by Norwich Business School, indicating companies that score well in terms of compensation, senior management, corporate values and work/life balance have the potential to outperform peers.
The Lead - "Dislocated Opportunities"
- Perhaps it is because our investment teams are located outside cities where the typical investment firm is housed, but our team has several views on market opportunities that appear divergent from the mainstream in the current market environment.
- The “sell what you can” dynamic has presented opportunities to find value at attractive prices.
- Our conviction to make investment decisions is supported by strong measures of insider buying and that many of our investments are funding and working towards finding solutions to the COVID-19 threat.
The Lead - "Cash is King"
- According to Empirical Research, free cash flow margins have been the best performing characteristic in the U.S. large cap market over the past one, three, five, and ten year periods.
- As public companies drive efficiencies to attract capital, the bar to be in the top 10% of stocks with high cash flow margins has continued to move higher.
- Most of these companies are in the technology and healthcare sectors, where many of our investment strategies are overweight relative to their benchmark.
- From Empirical Research’s work, it appears quality businesses also make quality investments.
The Lead - "Have Process, Will Travel"
- Our favorite college basketball team employs a proven defensive framework to help them win championships.
- Sterling Capital has repeatable investment processes that put the odds of success in our clients’ favor.
- Recently, our research provider expanded their databases globally, increasing our conviction that our process can add value, regardless of geography.
The Lead - "The Equity Market is Not Partisan"
- The performance of domestic equity markets in 2019 “rhymed” with history in year three of the cycle, posting strong returns versus the preceding two years – up over 28% in the case of the S&P 500.
- Election years tend to be the smoothest in terms of quarterly returns and many combinations of political control can lead to solid returns for equity investors.
- Our focus has been on keeping our “eye on the prize” to build portfolios of unique companies at unique prices.
The Lead - “Quality Shines”
- Recent work by Sterling Capital shows how quality as defined by return on equity shines in both up and down markets.
- How has quality fared in 2019? In a strong upmarket, domestic quality stocks more than doubled the performance of lower quality stocks with similar trends globally.
- Quality is an important component of our philosophy of investing, where the investment team rigorously assesses current and potential client holdings across multiple dimensions.
Associate Spotlight - George Carbaugh
This month’s Sterling Capital Associate Spotlight features Quantitative Research Analyst George Carbaugh. In his Q&A, George shares three qualities he believes are important to have in this industry, why, if he could choose, he would have dinner with Winston Churchill and more.View PDF
The Lead - "Where Will Growth Come From?"
- One of the world’s largest institutional investment advisors recently noted the changing complexion of global growth.
- This large consulting firm is also a fan of active management because of its ability to get ahead of changes in markets.
- As active managers, we use cognitive diversity to avoid group think when assessing stocks and pinpointing the sources of potential growth on a portfolio basis.
The Lead - "Flight to Quality"
- Owning “quality” has worked for equity investors in 2019
- In our view, quality stocks have six essential elements: industry leadership, niche domination, mission critical, quality compounder, misunderstood, and a disrupter
- Merrill Lynch notes that there are fewer quality stocks in domestic markets, which may make active managers focused on owning scarce quality stocks appealing
The Lead - "What’s Working"
- Expensive stocks are outperforming by a wide margin in 2019, and they are not necessarily the hot initial public offerings
- With global interest rates making historic lows, low growth bond like stocks with consistent cash flows and growth stocks with visible long term cash flows are among the best performing groups as traditional valuation models are put to the test
- While a case can be made for growth stocks, it is tougher for their low growth, high flying counterparts
- Our team actively shares insights among each other to help understand the investing backdrop to generate excess returns for clients
ESG: From Niche to Mainstream
Once considered a niche market for institutional investors, environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has gone mainstream. What exactly is ESG investing? Also called sustainable investing, the most commonly used definition is, “an approach to investing that aims to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into investment decisions, to better manage risk and generate sustainable, long-term returns.”View PDF
The Lead - "Setting Expectations"
- One of our favorite graphics is the emoji guide to investing that can be used for not only the stock market but can also be applied to individual stocks.
- While sentiment around the market or an individual stock can follow a wave of emotions, our edge is seeking to keep a level head (bottom graphic) and buy when others are in the red or green stage.
- As famed investor Warren Buffett noted in his 1961 partnership letter of these new positions, “sometimes these work out very fast; many times they take years.”
- We note that in our portfolios, recent purchases can show “mixed results” while stocks held for years can become strong performers as they move from pessimism to performance to realizing their potential.
Sterling Capital Equity Income Fund Ranks in the 1st Percentile of Morningstar Category
Sterling Capital Management LLC announced today that its Equity Income mutual fund, BEGIX, ranked in the 1st percentile based on total return among 442 funds in its Morningstar Large-Cap Value category for the 15-year period ending June 30, 2019.View PDF