Investment Pulse: What we’ve heard in the Third Quarter

invcom_20140417b.jpg

While the quarter started quietly, as summer was in full swing, it ended with a bang as Bill Gross announced his departure from PIMCO.  As summer travel and vacations died down, we ramped up our travel to collect insights from some of the world’s largest money managers.

Socially Responsive Investing with Neuberger Berman

In early August The Center’s Investment Committee had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the management of Neuberger Berman’s long-time successful Socially Responsive Investing (SRI) strategy.  Since this is an area that seems to be gaining in interest from our clients, we talked with some of the most successful investors to get their take on how they do it.

  •  Process: They look for areas of business that have tailwinds and find the best positioned companies.  They analyze the companies for 13-15 months.  Once a company meets their expectations, it is added to their prospect list (173 names currently).  When looking to buy they ask, “Why is the price attractive?”; “Is something broken (based what they know about the company)?”; “Does the stock have value criteria?"
  • SRI has five avoidance points:  alcohol, tobacco, weapons, nuclear power, and gambling.  The investment team wants a management team that makes thoughtful, long-term, fundamental decisions.

Steve Vannelli, CFA, managing director of GaveKal Capital

On a trip to Denver, CO to visit clients, Matt Chope, CFP®, Partner, spent an afternoon in September with Steve Vannelli, CFA, Managing Director of GaveKal Capital. Matt and Steven discussed many aspects of investment markets, interest rates, and the state of the economy.  Steven shared GaveKal’s proprietary approach to finding what he calls "knowledge leaders" or firms with an R&D intensity greater than that of the industry they are a part of.  He finds a correlation to these innovative companies of higher future sales growth, higher future Return on Assets, and higher market share as well as lower variability to earnings and stock returns.

Steven described how to better understand the intangible investment that many of these companies make, which he says is the key missing element in understanding the true company value. In that, he says, lies the misunderstood inefficiency in the marketplace.

Matt also learned about their proprietary quality models that scrubs the balance sheet, reviews financial leverage, calculates net debt as a percent of capital, and, most notably, intellectual property as a percent of assets of 1600 companies around the world.

Goldman Sachs, Blackrock and JP Morgan on-site visits

Matt continued his busy schedule with due diligence meetings in New York City.  Global macro themes were the main takeaways from his discussions.  Topics ranged from deflation in Europe to the energy revolution in the U.S.

While many of these companies do not currently have representation in our portfolios, the discussions with management are key to us in the overall management of our clients’ investments.  One of the worst risks you can have is the risk you don’t know about. Discussions like those we had in the 3rd quarter help us to understand where potential risks could be coming from.  While we at The Center can’t be on the ground in 20 different countries every year, we have the opportunity to leverage many experts and listen to their sometimes conflicting viewpoints.

This material is being provided for information purposes only and is not a complete description, nor is it a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Angela Palacios, CFP®, Portfolio Manager and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete.