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The far-flung past as prologue

The negative stock/bond correlation from 1998 until 2019 was the anomaly, not the positive relationship that began in 2022. In the years ahead, portfolio diversification should come increasingly from security and manager selection.

The case for a global small-mid cap portfolio

Global asset owners have historically allocated capital to two distinct equity asset classes: global large cap and/or global small cap. There's a good argument for a small-midcap fund to be part of investor portfolios.

The cheapest small cap valuations in decades

Small and mid cap stocks potentially offer investors an opportunity not seen in decades as valuations are close to two standard deviations 'cheap' relative to larger companies. It's not the only thing in their favour.

The 60/40 portfolio is back

In 2023, the focus will shift to the economic cycle. While equities and some of the riskier fixed income markets have challenges, a solid risk-free rate added to a 3-4% equity risk premium is a good through-cycle return.

Firstlinks Interview Series - bonus eBook

A collection of interviews with financial markets experts on investing, superannuation, retirement and other topical issues, as published by Firstlinks over 2021 and 2022.

Beware the hit to earnings in 2023

Decelerating inflation should provide a tailwind for high quality bonds but will likely hurt company margins and therefore stock prices. Uncompetitive companies facing elevated capital costs will be most at risk.

In portfolio construction, actions speak louder than words

Portfolio construction requires actions, not just words, based on expected returns, volatility and correlations. We have not seen sufficient pain to believe we are at the bottom of the equity cycle.

Beware the headlines as averages don’t tell the whole story

Averages provide the central value in a data series but provide no window into variation. Every market drawdown, financial crisis and recession is different, and market cycles only end when excesses are corrected.

Cash is the nightingale, the bird in the hand

The bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, and it's an apt metaphor for investment choices. In 2021, as investors hunted in the bush for decent returns, demand overwhelmed supply. Cash is the bird in the hand.

Roger Morley on the merit of obstinacy in global investing

What does a global investor think of the consequences of war, changing investment opportunities, building portfolios, good and bad stocks and why obstinacy amid short-term trends is a positive attribute?

Global survey shows Australians least confident about retiring

Australians are generally optimistic about retiring comfortably but their confidence lags retirement savers in other countries. They are also the most unsure about future returns and withdrawal rates in retirement.

REIT sectors are different, faced with fundamentals and inflation

REITs come in many forms and the impact of inflation varies by the type of inflation and the REIT subcategory. Some trends, such as the end of 'just in time' and greater power of labour, have a widespread impact.

Rising real yields likely to undermine equity values

Negative real yields have unmoored asset prices from fundamentals, but inflation pressures are likely to start pushing real yields higher. Higher real yields should feed into lower risk asset valuations.

A year like few others, but what's next?

The anniversary of the pandemic low point in the S&P500 was 23 March 2021, delivering a staggering one-year return of 77%. If history is a guide, as policy normalises, investors will pivot to 'compounders' not cyclicals.

Let's be clear: sustainability isn’t free

Efforts to become more sustainable will challenge many companies and perhaps even bankrupt some. Sustainability drives new opportunities but brings risks for others, and companies which cannot adapt will suffer.

Global search for short-term losers and long-term winners

Active managers need to know what factors are distorting asset prices. This interview with Ted Maloney, CIO of MFS, explores how much of 10 years of growth has been pulled forward and the impact of Reddit users.

Why ESG assessment must now consider active ownership

Regardless of how an investor owns an asset, they need to know how a business is sustainable over the long term. By influencing the activities or behaviour of investee companies, returns can be enhanced.

Amid vaccine hope and skepticism, testing is key

While the recent Pfizer announcement deserves optimism, the global life sciences supply chain is likely to create more sustainable profits than those in the highly-competitive vaccine market.

MFS Investments: Blue wave fails to reach shore

If he wins, Joe Biden will enter office with a weak mandate relative to expectations due to the underperformance of his party, but the executive branch wields a great deal of power in the regulatory framework.

The role of financial markets when earnings are falling

Everything is rising in value because there is excess capital chasing too few opportunities. Capital should be allocated more responsibly with a focus on the future cash flow from a company.

Too many unknowns: hope isn't an investment thesis

Many investors believe they have sufficient visibility into numerous unknowns to make the high-conviction call that the recovery will be strong. We don’t, and we're not willing to guess.

MFS's Carol Geremia on short-termism and time tolerance

After 35 years in fiduciary and leadership roles, the President of MFS Investment Management is clear about the major problem in wealth management: we have not convinced investors to think long term.

Investing amid IoT-enabled disruption

Manufacturing is going through an extended ‘Internet of Things’-enabled automation refresh cycle which will change the global industrial market, with profound implications for business models.

From popular to unthinkable: do political outcomes impact investments?

Political outcomes are challenging to predict. Instead, we need to focus on the investment implications of a variety of policy outcomes. A long term perspective is where valuation intersects with fundamentals.

Barnaby Wiener on preserving wealth and asset allocation

A global asset allocator is positioned defensively to preserve the wealth of his clients. He has some strong comments on stocks, the investment industry and avoiding the pressures of short termism.

Would a recession in 2019 matter to financial markets?

A global investment strategist looks at why this cycle may be different, and examines the potential invested yield curve for hints from the past.

Know what you own in complex markets

In some markets, the sheer volume of money flows into both good and bad companies, but when tougher conditions inevitably come, it's the quality earnings that sustain.

Summer Series Guest, Pilar Gomez-Bravo

In the first of our Summer Series, Guest Editor Pilar Gomez-Bravo, a Director of Fixed Income at MFS, selects her favourite articles from our archive with an emphasis on long-term investing techniques and benefits.

Reflections on four decades of investing

As he prepares for retirement, a Chief Investment Strategist from a major global fund manager summarises what he has learned working through five full business cycles. He says it's time to take risk off the table.

Changing landscape of US large and mid caps

The sizeable increase in the market capitalisation of the technology leaders has inadvertently led to reduced diversification via a reduction to a mid cap exposure in portfolios represented by the Russell 1000.

What does the shape of the yield curve tell us?

Many experts are warning that over the past 60 years, the yield curve has inverted in advance of every recession, but will a yield curve inversion have a different result this time?

Winner-takes-all is turning conventional wisdom on its head

Despite what the textbooks tell us, a world of more dominant players has not led to higher prices. How does this affect investing?

Why active management needs a full cycle

The long bull market allowed passive investing to prosper, but over a whole cycle, companies with better fundamentals will outperform weak ones. The market is finally showing some dispersion.

Pilar Gomez-Bravo: How to select assets in a world of choices

This wide-ranging interview with Pilar Gomez-Bravo, Director of Fixed Income at MFS Investment Management, covers the role of active management, the low rate environment, portfolio creation and asset class correlations.

Investors expect ESG issues to drive returns

Both retail and institutional investors are demanding fund managers respond to ESG issues. A new generation will insist on better standards and will not accept a compromise in returns. 

Culture and competitive advantage

In a good company, culture drives the businesses strategy. It guides the way employees work together. And ultimately, culture shapes the type of experience a firm delivers to its employees and clients.

Dive or stay: the biases of goalkeepers and portfolio managers

Portfolio managers and goalkeepers feel the need to do something, but an awareness of this action bias may help them recognise that inaction can be an optimal strategy.

Most viewed in recent weeks

16 ASX stocks to buy and hold forever

In his recent shareholder letter, Warren Buffett mentions several stocks he expects Berkshire Hathaway will own indefinitely, including Occidental Petroleum. We look at ASX stocks that investors could buy and hold forever.

The best strategy to build income for life

Owning quality, dividend-producing industrial shares is key to building a decent income stream. Here is an update on the long-term performance of industrial stocks against indices, listed property, and term deposits.

Are more taxes on super on the cards?

The Government's broken promise on tax cuts has prompted speculation about other promises that it may consider breaking. It's widely believed that super is lightly taxed and a prime candidate for special attention.

Lessons from the battery metals bust

The crash in lithium and nickel prices has left companies scrambling to cut production, billionaires red-faced, and investors wondering how a ‘sure thing’ went so wrong. There are plenty of lessons for everyone.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 545 with weekend update

It’s troubling that practical skills like investing aren’t taught at schools as it leaves our children ill-equipped to build wealth, and more vulnerable to bad advice. Here are some suggestions to address the issue.

  • 1 February 2024

For the younger generation, we need to get real on tax

The distortions in our tax system have been ignored for too long, and we're now paying the price. It's time Australia got real and addressed the problems to prevent an even greater intergenerational tragedy.

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