The Federal Reserve has paused its cycle of interest rate hikes. But there are no signs of an easing of monetary policy for the time being. This is evident from the rate projections of the US monetary authorities, summarised in the dot plot.
Last week's monetary policy meetings of the world's two leading central banks, the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB), produced no major surprises. After the expected interest rate hike of 25 basis points, ECB chair Christine Lagarde hinted at another hike of the same size in July. However, she was cautious about the September rate decision. Nevertheless, financial markets have already priced in further interest rate hikes of 0.25 percentage points each: investors expect a rate hike in July with a probability of 90%, and a further tightening in September with a probability of 65%. We share this view.
As expected, the Fed has paused after several large rate hikes over the past five quarters. However, the Fed's communication remains hawkish - hinting at continued tight monetary policy - as Fed members' interest rate projections have been revised slightly upwards. The so-called dot plot now indicates a federal funds rate of 5.62% this year, which would imply two more rate hikes of 25 basis points each. But what is the dot plot and is it relevant at all?
The dot plot is a graphical representation of the individual interest rate projections of the 18 members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). It is usually published four times a year along with the FOMC's economic projections. Each dot on the chart represents an individual FOMC member's projection for the federal funds rate at various points in time, including the current year, the coming year, and over the longer term. The dot plot thus provides insight into the FOMC's thinking about the future path of monetary policy. It is important to note that the dot plot is not an official statement of monetary policy, nor does it specify a particular interest rate path.
The meaningfulness of the dot plot should always be taken with a grain of salt, as 18 months ago, in December 2021, it signalled an interest rate of 1.36%, compared to 5.62% today. FOMC members have only a limited view and are dependent on the evolution of economic data, as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell repeatedly points out. Nevertheless, the year-end projections provide some interesting information. As things stand, the Federal Open Market Committee is clearly signalling that, assuming the current pause ends, the next rate move will be up, not down.
The Fed's communication confirms that interest rates will have to remain high for longer in order to bring stubbornly high core inflation down to the central bank's target of 2%. A market environment characterised by weak economic growth and heightened price pressures is not equally manageable for all companies. Stock selection will therefore be a key success factor for any portfolio in the months ahead.
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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.
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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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