Market view and Insights
The likelihood of an overly restrictive monetary policy has certainly increased over the past month, but central banks are aware that their credibility is an extremely valuable asset that needs to be defended.
The meteorological spring began on March 1st, and it almost seems as if parts of the equity markets are overcome by spring feelings. The increasing macroeconomic headwinds in the form of (excessively) high inflation rates worldwide are seemingly being ignored, at least temporarily. In Europe, a headline inflation rate of over 8% and a core rate of 5.6% remain too high so that the European Central Bank (ECB) has no choice but to raise interest rates well above 4%. In the United States, price pressures are easing, but remain as well at a too high level. Thus, any dreams of a "pivot" before the end of this year seem extremely unlikely. The exception would be a recession, which could put massive pressure on stock markets. Why do we now get the feeling that the equity markets are virtually decoupling, or rather ignoring the economic environment we have described above?
There are many sayings on capital markets, some of which may well make sense in the medium and long term, but which often leave a lot of room for interpretation. One of them is "Don't fight the tape." In financial jargon, this means not to go against the market trend. As our graph shows, the US benchmark S&P 500 index has been in an uptrend since the October 2022 lows, and the market has broken through the important 200-day moving average line from the bottom to the top, giving the bulls a boost.
For short-term investors, this bullish observation may be reason enough to act. However, this example does not go far enough in defining an investment strategy. After all, the fundamental conditions for the stock market have clouded over in recent weeks. On the one hand, the equity risk premium has fallen to a 15-year low, and on the other hand, central banks have less leeway today than they did six weeks ago.
The two most important central banks - the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank - know very well that their credibility is an extremely important asset that must be defended at all costs. Once investor confidence in the ability of central banks to restore price stability is lost, it can take a very long time, if at all, to make up for this loss of confidence.
The likelihood of an overly restrictive monetary policy has certainly increased over the past month. Service inflation and the overheated labor market in the US are probably the biggest headaches for Fed Chairman Jerome Powell at the moment. In any case, the likelihood of a hoped-for soft landing for the US economy has diminished.
In this environment, we have the following relative preferences: bonds over equities and within bonds we consider corporate bonds more attractive than high yield. Within equities, we prefer the "rest of the world" over the US.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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