The animal spirits are palpable. Though U.S. markets have seemed to be fully valued for some time, the price action since the ball dropped on 2018 is saying, “these go to 11.”
Jeremy Grantham of GMO captures the sentiment in his piece, “Bracing Yourself for a Possible Near-Term Melt-Up.” The punchline: Grantham says it’s possible that we’ll see a melt-up to 3,400–3,700 (!) on the S&P 500 over the next nine to 18 months. I mean, it’s possible (probable?) that we won’t, but I think he’s more right than wrong.
If you missed it, Grantham laid down a gauntlet of a thought exercise late last year: imagine that you are Stalin’s pension fund manager and you are told to generate 4.5% real returns for 10 years, or else. Where do you allocate your capital?
Grantham’s answer: EM equity. In size.
I imagine that many investors—particularly those with 7%+ return assumptions—are asking themselves the question: am I sufficiently overweight in EM?
Unfortunately, I don’t think that extends to EM private markets. However, a bull cycle in EM public markets should boost multiples and be conducive for exits. Here’s hoping that we see sustained portfolio and direct investment flows, and GPs seizing the opportunity to distribute capital back to their LPs.
Separately, thanks to those of you who encouraged people to subscribe to our newsletter. Our plea resulted in a donation to Room to Read, so thanks for contributing to children’s literacy.
Finally, If you missed our most recent research piece over the holidays, Does the EM PE Asset Class Scale?, it’s available for free on our website.
Happy new year. Let’s make it a good one.
McVey Calls a Secular Bull Market in EM
KKR’s Henry McVey issued his hefty investment outlook for 2018, “You Can Get What You Need.” The takeaway for readers of this newsletter is his conclusion that EM are in a secular bull market that should last for three to five years. Inshallah.
Of note, McVey ran a DuPont analysis and discovers “that operating margins are finally improving across all of EM after a five-year bear market, which is now boosting return on equity.” Commodity-related companies are a major driver of this swing, so it pays to keep an eye on commodity prices for a potential turn.
One interesting tidbit in the outlook is his forecast for private equity returns over the next five years, which he estimates will decline to 9.6% (the highest across asset classes; see below).
No, not that story.
Norway’s $1.1 trillion sovereign wealth fund has submitted a recommendation to the finance ministry that it be given greater latitude to invest in and alongside private equity funds. This would be a fairly significant development for the private equity industry, given the volume of capital that it could unlock for the asset class.
In my dreams, I envision them building a team with a global mandate to identify small- and mid-cap managers with compelling strategies. Exploiting the advantage of being a genuinely long-term investor, and seizing the opportunity to build an edge in private markets.
But in my waking hours, I see billions flowing directly to Blackstone.
Brazil on the Move
Brazil’s auto industry is moving product: vehicle exports are expected to hit an all-time high of 750,000 in 2017, according to reports in the FT. We highlighted the bottoming process in Brazil in our April 2017 newsletter, when we juxtaposed the contraction in consumer lending and declining retail sales in the country with the fiesta in Mexico. If one were fishing for a macro long-short idea, this might be one place to look for pairs.
More to the point, we expect some large Brazilian funds to come to market in 2018. Will investors commit, or take a pass?
“Emerging market interest remained low this year.”
So concludes Probitas Partners, the global placement advisory firm, in its Private Equity Institutional Investor Trends for 2018 survey (n=98). Emerging markets are one of the least attractive segments within global private equity, with only 9% of respondents planning to focus their attention on EM this year (see below).
Managers in EM just are not a priority.
Within EM, surveyed LPs find China, India, and Southeast Asia most attractive, while ~15% of respondents express interest in LatAm and Brazil. Notably, 38% of respondents report that they do not invest in EM.
The full survey is available at this link (registration required).
From the Bookshelf
There are Croakers in every Country always boding its Ruin.
— Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography (Oxford World’s Classics: 1993).
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The information presented in this newsletter is for informational purposes only. Portico Advisers does not undertake to update this material and the opinions and conclusions contained herein may change without notice. Portico Advisers does not make any warranty that the information in this newsletter is error-free, omission-free, complete, accurate, or reliable. Nothing contained in this newsletter should be construed as legal, tax, securities, or investment advice.
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