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
Sterling Capital Equity Income Fund Ranks in Top 1% of Lipper Peers
Sterling Capital Management LLC (Sterling Capital) announced today that its Equity Income mutual fund (the Fund) ranked in the top 1% among 467 of its Lipper peers based on total return for the three-year period ended December 31, 2018, for its institutional-class I shares (BEGIX), providing an 11.59% return per year versus a category average of 6.88% per year.View PDF
The Lead - "It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This"
- Now that we have broken the record for the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, how should a vigilant investor position their portfolio?
- Historically, investing in quality companies has provided better returns in a slowing macroeconomic environment according to Merrill Lynch’s analysis of stock performance (as shown in the chart on page one).
- A case has been made for paying higher valuations for a combination of above average returns and growth, we provide a framework but look for these stock characteristics…at the right price.
The Lead - "Conference Heroes"
- June represents one of our favorite times of the year - when the earnings season ends and we are able to get out and visit companies.
- Not all stock returns are created equal and typically a small number of stocks can generate outsized returns while the majority of stocks underperform.
- When working an investment conference, we are on a search for unique, attractive business models with the potential for 50-100% upside typically over the next 3-5 years.
- This week members of the team are at a number of investor days and conferences such as William Blair that have yielded several “conference heroes” over the years that we highlight.
The Lead - "Women in Finance"
- A Bloomberg study shows female CEOs produce value for shareholders and we highlight three of our investments run by female CEOs.
- These CEOs share similar leadership qualities we find compelling.
- We put our money to work with leaders with a vision, provide hints of success along the journey, and highlight their results for our clients.
The Lead - "Value Extremes"
- Value investors have been waiting as long as our beloved Virginia Cavaliers to get back in the spotlight.
- Growth stocks outperformance since 2007 has been historic, but a longer term view shows value stocks should not be counted out.
- In our Equity Income strategy, we’ve been attracted to compelling valuations with attractive and rapidly growing dividends.
The Lead - "Purpose and Performance"
- As socially responsible investing, or ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) continues to gain acceptance, the search for fully defining the approach and any source of outperformance continues.
- This month, we find that another research tool, Glassdoor, has been identified by Bank of America’s quantitative group as not only producing outperformance but also fits into their evolving ESG framework.
- We have used Glassdoor reviews for years as part of our research process with the view that motivated employees should perform at a higher level. Bank of America’s work has now quantified the positive impact this tool provides, as seen in the chart above, to help generate both purpose and performance for client accounts.
The Lead - "Setting the Angel Free"
- We see the passive index as the unhewn slab of marble, and we chip away and eliminate portions in our quest to create a masterpiece.
- Why not employ an active investment process that focuses on companies that earn a profit, have management aligned with shareholders, have the ability to grow a dividend, are taking market share and buy them at compelling valuations in a stock market where returns are not normally distributed?
- Why own segments of an index that lack these characteristics when they can chisel away and own stock characteristics that have a history of outperforming the market?