Last month, Germany’s best-known stock index hit a new record high. The DAX, which includes the 40 largest German companies, reached a new record of 16,331.94 points on May 19, beating the previous high of 16,291.19 set in the fourth quarter of 2021. Some analysts immediately spoke of a “fake” record as the DAX is a performance index (i.e., it includes dividend payments) and not a price index such as the S&P 500 or the Swiss Market Index (SMI), which track the price movements of the index components without dividend payments.
In our view, calling the DAX’s recent all-time high a “fake” is not tenable. Today, dividend payments are an integral part of an investment's return potential, not just its price performance. Analysts and investors should always look at the total package - including price potential and dividend yield.
On 25 May, just six days after the DAX set the all-time high, the news came that Germany was in a recession, albeit a mild one. Officially, a recession occurs when gross domestic product (GDP) is negative for two consecutive quarters. With a contraction of 0.5% in the fourth quarter of 2022 and another contraction of 0.3% in the first quarter of 2023, this was the case in Europe's largest economy.
However, we should not allow ourselves to get carried away, as extremely weak growth was already expected and the difference between -0.3% and +0.1% growth is hardly noticeable for consumers and investors. Moreover, German GDP fell by 6.9% during the Great Financial Crisis and by more than 10% during the recession following the outbreak of Covid-19. Nevertheless, the situation is still uncomfortable given the weak growth prospects.
Investors might naturally ask how such a constellation - record high stock prices and a recession - is possible. It would be too easy to say that the stock market does not always accurately reflect the economy, or that equity markets are one of the best leading indicators. That is true to a certain extent, but in this particular case it is too simplistic.
From our point of view, the main factor is that investors' expectations six to nine months ago were much worse than today's actual conditions. As winter approached in autumn 2022, investors did not know that it will be a mild winter or that gas prices would fall by more than 90%. These worst-case scenarios have been priced out of markets. The price gains of recent months have largely been based on the mantra that less bad is good. This was also one of the reasons why we upgraded European equities to "neutral" at the end of the first quarter.
Looking forward to the second half of the year, the road ahead for the DAX and European equities is likely to be bumpier. Another winter is on the horizon and the energy supply challenges are not just limited to Germany. It also remains to be seen whether market participants' current inflation expectations are realistic or whether the core rate will remain stubbornly high, putting pressure on the ECB to raise interest rates well above 4%. In this environment, sector and industry selection is the most important success factor in our view, not only in the German equity market but also globally. The extent to which stock pickers will rise again remains to be seen, but active management will be crucial in the coming quarters.
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Reference regarding analysis history
If this analysis was made available to any issuers mentioned in the publication prior to its distribution or publication, no changes were made to the price or rating after the issuer’s feedback. Important references for Liechtenstein can be found in articles 3 to 6 FinMV [Financial Analysis Market Abuse Ordinance], for Switzerland in the Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research, and for Austria in section 48 BörseG [Stock Exchange Act], the Austrian analysis principles of the Österreichische Vereinigung für Finanzanalyse und Asset Management [Austrian Association for Financial Analysis and Asset Management, ÖVFA] and the Austrian Society of Investment Professionals (ASIP) and the Standard Compliance Code of the Austrian banking sector. A history of all ratings and recommendations is available at your LGT relationship manager.
Essential sources of information
Our analysts draw on publicly accessible information we consider to be reliable. For the compilation of the analysis, publications by domestic and foreign media and news services (e.g. Reuters, Bloomberg, VWD etc.), business publications, trade publications, statistics and rating agencies were used, together with information from the issuers of the analyzed securities – mainly via the Internet, but also in writing or by telephone. We also procure information from investment banks (sell-side research and primary research).
Reference regarding valuation rates
Unless otherwise stated or specified, the rates used in the analysis are normally the share prices provided by the news agencies Reuters and/or Bloomberg at the close of the stock exchange of the domestic market of the analyzed security or the relevant principal market of this security on the respective local stock exchange on the eve of the day of compilation.
Explanation of investment recommendations for stocks
We apply a “hybrid approach” (internal fundamental analysis combined with “theScreener”, an external, purely quantitative analysis tool). TheScreener is based on purely quantitative, i.e. computable variables such as (but not exclusively restricted to) profit adjustments of the past few weeks, stock valuation in relation to historical performance and comparison groups, the technical trend, performance in relation to the market etc. The assessment of the equity analysts, which is largely based on a qualitative analysis, does not need to match with the one of theScreener. For the overall judgement the assessment of the equity analysts overrides the one of theScreener. LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. categorizes its analysis recommendations into five ratings: for a “Buy” recommendation we expect a relative outperformance compared with the sector. Only equities subjected to an internal fundamental analysis can be rated “Buy”. The recommendation “Attractive” is used for equities exclusively ranked by theScreener without any internal fundamental analysis as “slightly positive” or “positive”. A moderate relative outperformance versus the index is expected. For equities that we rate as “Hold” we expect a performance largely in line with the one of the sector. This can comprise both equities for which a fundamental analysis has been carried out as well as equities that theScreener ranks as “neutral” versus the index. The recommendation “Unattractive” is used for equities exclusively ranked by theScreener without any internal fundamental analysis as “slightly negative”. A moderate relative underperformance versus the index is expected. By contrast, “Sell” recommendations are based on the expectation of a relative underperformance compared with the sector. This can comprise both equities for which we are recommending “Sell” for fundamental reasons as well as equities that theScreener ranks as “negative” versus the index. Therefore the ratings always reflect a relative consideration versus the sector and/or specified index. The risk assessment is based on the individual judgement of the analyst (e.g. we assume a “high” risk for illiquid shares, highly indebted companies or shares from developing countries).
Reference regarding share valuation basis: The analysis compiled by LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. are essentially based on secondary research relating to fundamental and quantitative analysis. Generally accepted valuation methods (valuation multiples, return figures, sector comparisons, comparisons with past valuations etc.) are used for this. The forecasts for the quantitative analysis are prepared with the help of mathematical-statistical procedures (see statements above concerning the analysis tool “theScreener”). Economic indicators such as interest rates, currencies, commodity prices and assumptions relating to the economy are included in the overall assessment. The mood of the market also affects the company valuation. Moreover, many of the approaches are based on estimates and expectations that may change quickly and without warning, depending on developments specific to the industry. Therefore, the recommendations derived from the analysis can also change accordingly. The investment judgements generally refer to a period of 6 to 12 months. However, they are also subject to market conditions and represent a snapshot of the situation. They may be achieved more quickly or more slowly or be revised upwards or downwards.
Explanation of investment recommendations for bonds
We employ both qualitative and quantitative methods to derive our recommendations, which are to be seen as relative to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. “Buy” and “Sell” recommendations demand a qualitative in-house analyst opinion, in which we incorporate both historical and projected financial results and credit metrics as well as past and anticipated company and sector-specific observations and trends. We recommend “Buy” for a security for which we expect a strong relative outperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. We recommend “Sell” if we expect strong relative underperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. The ratings “Attractive”, “Hold” and “Unattractive” can be based purely on a quantitative approach, which includes the market price of credit risk, valuation of equities and associated instruments, corporate leverage, liability structure, size, and agency rating. We recommend “Attractive” for a security for which we expect a relative outperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. We recommend “Hold” if we expect an average performance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities. We recommend “Unattractive” if we expect a relative underperformance compared to sector/quality peers among comparable maturities.
This publication does not constitute either an issuing or listing prospectus, nor any other kind of prospectus. This publication also does not constitute any offer for subscription or any other transaction or obligation.
Definition of rating categories of S&P and Moody’s which are relevant for us:
AAA/Aaa: Borrower with highest credit quality. Default risk also virtually negligible over the longer term
AA/Aa: Safe investment, default risk virtually negligible but more difficult to assess in the longer term
A: Safe investment as long as no unforeseen events impair the overall economy or sector
BBB/Baa: Average investment. However, problems must be expected if the overall economy deteriorates
BB/Ba: Speculative investment. Defaults must be expected if the economic situation deteriorates
B: Highly speculative investment. Defaults are likely if the economic situation deteriorates
For more information on our methodology for bonds, please contact your LGT relationship manager or your local LGT Group company.
No guarantee is provided that the publications and information are up to date. Investment decisions should therefore always be made on the basis of the current prospectus and/or the complete documentation and publication of the third party/fund issuer (in particular the key investor information) and following consultation with an expert. This fund recommendation does not meet all the statutory requirements for guaranteeing the impartiality of financial research. The Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research do not apply to this recommendation. It does not constitute financial analysis within the meaning of the Liechtenstein Ordinance on the Preparation of Financial Analysis according to the Law against Market Abuse in the Trading of Financial Instruments. LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and/or its affiliated companies are not subject to any prohibition of trading prior to the publication of financial research with regard to the recommended funds. The research can form the basis for the investment decisions of LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. itself and/or those of its affiliated companies. It is possible that LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and/or its affiliated companies might receive retrocessions from the issuers of the funds dealt with here.
All selected third-party funds are subjected to a thorough quantitative and qualitative analysis process prior to inclusion in the LGT FundGuide. Selected third-party funds are also subject to a continuous monitoring process. Austria: Investment decisions should only be made on the basis of the current KIID and valid prospectus following consultation with an expert.
LGT funds: The current full prospectus, the Key Investor Information Document (KIID) and the current annual and semi-annual reports can be obtained free of charge from the fund administrator and from the following addresses: Liechtenstein: LGT Bank Ltd., Herrengasse 12, FL-9490 Vaduz and as an electronic version at www.lafv.li; representative for Switzerland: LGT Capital Partners Ltd., Schützenstrasse 6, CH-8808 Pfäffikon; main distributor and paying agent for Switzerland: LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd., Lange Gasse 15, CH-4002 Basel; paying agent in Austria: Erste Bank der österreichischen Sparkassen AG, Am Belvedere 1, A-1010 Vienna.
This recommendation was prepared by LGT and not by an independent financial analysis department. Therefore this recommendation does not meet all the statutory requirements for guaranteeing the impartiality of financial research. The Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research do not apply to this recommendation. Investments in structured products entail a wide range of risks. Investment decisions should therefore only be made on the basis of the valid prospectus or complete documentation following consultation with an expert. This does not constitute financial analysis within the meaning of the Liechtenstein Ordinance on the Preparation of Financial Analysis according to the Law against Market Abuse in the Trading of Financial Instruments.
Information about foreign currencies were produced by LGT Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and not by an independent financial analysis department. Therefore, forecasts, observations and price information are subject to change at any time and there is no guarantee that the information is complete. Investment decisions should accordingly be made in consideration of the investor’s personal risk tolerance and within the overall context of the portfolio. The Swiss Bankers Association Directives on the Independence of Financial Research do not apply to currency analysis. Such analyses do not constitute financial analysis within the meaning of the Liechtenstein Ordinance on the Preparation of Financial Analysis according to the Law against Market Abuse in the Trading of Financial Instruments.
To determine the LGT Sustainability Rating, the companies, countries and supranational organizations underlying the investment vehicles are assessed according to criteria defined by LGT with respect to the areas of environment (E), social issues (S) and corporate governance (G). Corporate and country-specific sustainability data (raw data) of external data providers feed into this rating. The LGT Sustainability Rating is a result based on criteria and calculation methods determined by LGT. It does not claim to be exhaustive, accurate or up to date. The LGT Sustainability Rating is not substantiated by LGT. Any liability of LGT is excluded. The LGT Sustainability Rating does not constitute advice, an offer, a solicitation or invitation to submit an offer; it is neither a basis for a decision nor a recommendation to buy or sell investment vehicles or other specific products, and does not constitute advertising for products or services. Advice from a qualified specialist before making an investment decision is recommended. Investments may be subject to fluctuations. A high LGT Sustainability Rating and a high ESG score do not guarantee a good or better performance of the investment vehicle or other products, in particular in comparison with an investment with a lower LGT Sustainability Rating. The LGT Sustainability Rating must be strictly separated from other analyses and assessments.
This investment proposal might contain US assets located in the USA (known as “US situs assets”) which might trigger US inheritance tax consequences. This means, for example, that the estate of the decedent neither domiciled in the USA nor with US citizenship might become liable for tax payment to the US tax authority. Subject to a ceiling, non-US persons may enjoy tax exemptions and reductions if they are entitled to benefit from a double taxation agreement (DTA) which provides for such relief. LGT recommends that clients consult a qualified tax advisor for further information on US inheritance tax and the associated reporting obligations and tax liabilities in the USA. LGT does not automatically report tax liabilities to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the US tax authority.
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