If there is one thing sure to make equity investors swoon, it is the prospect of buying into a credible, long-lived secular growth story at a relatively modest valuation. Over the past three decades, Emerging Markets (EM) have proffered just such an opportunity. EM’s economic growth rates have far surpassed those of developed nations, and the valuations attached to EM stocks have often been at a discount to other markets.
However, this combination of secular growth and attractive valuations has not always paid off for investors. The MSCI Index has underperformed the U.S., Europe, and even Japan over the last ten years in local currencies. Furthermore, EPS growth for the EM Index has come in far below its economic growth rate, creating an exasperating drag on Index performance as it tries to keep up with other regions.
Investors view Emerging Markets (EM) as the best source of economic growth across global equity markets, and rightly so. Annualized EM GDP growth of 8.6% since 2001 is more than double that of the U.S. and Europe. However, investors have not captured this extraordinary advance because earnings per share for the MSCI EM Index have lagged far behind EM economic growth rates.
Most costly market decoy in the last six weeks has been unusual (relative) strength of the Dow and S&P 500 indexes. Resilience in blue chips is characteristic of the early and middle phases of a bear market, but recent blue chip performance has been so stellar (again, in a relative sense) that most investors curled up comfortably in the “correction” camp…while small caps, cyclicals and virtually all foreign markets were screaming “BEAR!”
Standard & Poor’s/MSCI did their annual review of the GICs groups and made some changes...in a few cases adopting groups we had already established at The Leuthold Group and had been tracking for several years. This month’s “Of Special Interest” discusses the changes and presents our take on the new groups.