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European Equities - Niall Gallagher

Niall Gallagher shares his views on the implications of rising real bond yields and why he thinks central banks will continue to have to fight inflation rather than deflation. Niall also discusses the sheer scale of capital required to enable the energy transition, and some of the companies he believes stand to capitalise.

What were the major recent events and what were the impacts on your asset class?

So the quarter was pretty good in terms of earnings results as we cycled through the first half of the year into Q2. We generally had some pretty decent earnings numbers from our companies. The ones that we were particularly exposed to were the banks, which are benefiting now from rising interest rates really coming in to net interest income and therefore into earnings.

Towards the end of the quarter, we saw a big rise in the oil and gas price, which we had expected, and that led to a big outperformance by the energy stocks. So banks and energy were the two areas of the market that were the best for us in the quarter, and I think the most noticeable. We also saw some pretty good results from some of our construction- exposed companies like Kingspan and Saint-Gobain, which are particularly exposed to the energy transition to net zero, but also to some of the big spending areas and things like semiconductor fabrications and also automotive car plants, particularly for electric vehicles. Elsewhere, I think the really big event has been the rise in bond yields, particularly real bond yields. So if we look at 10-Year US TIPS they've now gone above 2.3%. And we think that the rise in real bond yields over the last two to three years has been really quite something and is highly significant. I think what is happening is markets are beginning to absorb the fact that the balance of inflationary and deflationary forces has firmly gone over to inflationary forces, which means that central banks will have to keep on bearing down on inflation through higher rates, and higher rates for longer.

On top of that, the energy transition, the transition to net zero, is going to require so much capital at a global level and for so long that we think it might tip the balance between savings and investments globally and therefore push upwards on interest rates. So these are kind of the key macro variables in terms of what it means for equities. We think in Europe in particular, it means we've got to remain focused on banks and energy as the areas that will benefit from those companies that are exposed to the energy transition to net zero, that will benefit and be very wary of many of the quality stocks that remain very expensive versus history.

So there are businesses we like that we think are good prospects, but they're just simply too expensive. And where these companies disappoint, like companies like Adyen or Lonza, they tend to get hit very hard. So we think we have to really focus on valuation and those areas of the market that have the best operating trends, which for us is banks and energy.

What can your asset class offer in the current environment?

We think the free cash flow yields and the dividend yields and the earnings growth is still positive in the areas that we are exposed to, principally banks and energy. We think there is some very good long-term structural growth trends in areas related to the energy transition. So companies like Kingspan, Saint-Gobain, Prysmian, Schneider, Atlas Copco – a bit more pricey, but a very high-quality company with pretty decent growth. So those areas will all do well.

We think some of the other areas that we have liked and still like for the very long term, like luxury or semiconductor capex, might take a step back in the short to medium term, but they're well positioned for the long term too.

What’s your outlook in the near and medium term?

So I think as regards interest rates, we're probably close to a peak. But I think it'll be a long time before rates come down and central banks will continue to have to fight inflation rather than deflation. So that's a very important shift. That means that I think for banks we'll continue to see the earnings get upgraded, not because I expect the interest rates going up further, but more because the market's pricing interest rates falling. And I think that's less likely to happen. So I think banks remain in earnings upgrade mode. And I think the cash flow coming from banks is going to be huge. So that remains an area that we think is key, as does energy. And I think other than that the trends remain in place.

We don't like to talk about growth versus value. We think it really misunderstands the investment paradigm. But if you force me into the growth versus value paradigm, I would say that value will continue to outperform growth and that we'll continue to see a de-rating of many of the stocks that have been de-rating slowly over the last two and a half years.

Is there one chart you’re currently monitoring closely?

The one that I think has moved most aggressively is real interest rates. So US-10 Year TIPS or something like that. Our hypothesis has been for a while that real interest rates would rise, but they're moving quite quickly. And I think that will upset the investment paradigm for many people who haven't really thought through the implications of all of this for different asset classes, but also within equities, the different sectors that may not do so well in an era of higher real interest rates.

Important disclosures and information
The information contained herein is given for information purposes only and does not qualify as investment advice. Opinions and assessments contained herein may change and reflect the point of view of GAM in the current economic environment. No liability shall be accepted for the accuracy and completeness of the information contained herein. Past performance is not an indicator of current or future trends. The mentioned financial instruments are provided for illustrative purposes only and shall not be considered as a direct offering, investment recommendation or investment advice or an invitation to invest in any GAM product or strategy. The securities listed were selected from the universe of securities covered by the portfolio managers to assist the reader in better understanding the themes presented. The securities included are not necessarily held by any portfolio or represent any recommendations by the portfolio managers.

No guarantee or representation is made that investment objectives will be achieved. The value of investments may go down as well as up. Past results are not necessarily indicative of future results. Investors could lose some or all of their investments.

References to indexes and benchmarks are hypothetical illustrations of aggregate returns and do not reflect the performance of any actual investment. Investors cannot invest in indices which do not reflect the deduction of the investment manager’s fees or other trading expenses. Such indices are provided for illustrative purposes only. Indices are unmanaged and do not incur management fees, transaction costs or other expenses associated with an investment strategy. Therefore, comparisons to indices have limitations. There can be no assurance that a portfolio will match or outperform any particular index or benchmark.

This presentation contains forward-looking statements relating to the objectives, opportunities, and the future performance of the US market generally. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of such words as; “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” “potential” and other similar terms. Examples of forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, estimates with respect to financial condition, results of operations, and success or lack of success of any particular investment strategy. All are subject to various factors, including, but not limited to general and local economic conditions, changing levels of competition within certain industries and markets, changes in interest rates, changes in legislation or regulation, and other economic, competitive, governmental, regulatory and technological factors affecting a portfolio’s operations that could cause actual results to differ materially from projected results. Such statements are forward-looking in nature and involve a number of known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, and accordingly, actual results may differ materially from those reflected or contemplated in such forward-looking statements. Prospective investors are cautioned not to place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements or examples. None of GAM or any of its affiliates or principals nor any other individual or entity assumes any obligation to update any forward-looking statements as a result of new information, subsequent events or any other circumstances. All statements made herein speak only as of the date that they were made.

Niall Gallagher

Investment Director

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