Ofelia Marín- Lozano | In recent years, one of the most repeated commentaries when recommending investing in European stock markets tends to be: Why should invest in Europe when the US stock markets outperform year after year? In 22 years of history which coincide with the birth of the Euro Stoxx 50, for the first fourteen years the two markets moved almost in parallel. Only since 2011 can a clearly superior and sustained performance by the S&P 500 be observed.
Articles by Ofelia Marín Lozano
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The Eurostoxx 50 will proceed once a year to change its composition on 24 September. This year there will be three new members of the index: Kering, Linde and Amadeus. The change of sectoral composition of the Eurostoxx 50 over the last two decades has been significant. Regulated companies have lost weight, and the major consumer and industrial multinational with global reach have gained in importance.
Ofelia Marín-Lozano | A decade after the beginning of the financial crisis, net profits in the Spanish banking sector continue the upward trend begun in 2012, but the profit per share is much less favourable. Given that the number of shares has increased (overall, more tan double the number in 2007), the net profit per share is less than a half pre-crisis levels.
Ofelia Marín-Lozano | The Spanish financial sector has made an unprecedented effort to sanitise its books: since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, sanitising and provisions (amounting to some 260 billion euros) have reduced profit margins by two thirds, according to figures from the latest annual meeting of the financial sector. The role of digitilisation replacing branches was one of the recurrent themes of the meeting.
Ofelia Marín-Lozano |The variations in the exchange rate, over short periods of time like quarters, sales performances or results expressed in euros which can lead to simple, erroneous conclusions. This is even more true in the case of a European company with a greater weighting in markets where the dollar is the currency of reference. That is to say in any market outside, if not the Eurozone, then at least Europe.
One of the most objective measures for judging whether the stock market is expensive or cheap is the dividend yield. At the moment, the main global stock markets offer real returns which are superior to those of long-term sovereign bonds. For example, 34 of the 40 biggest French firms, those which make up the CAC40, have increased dividends over the last year.
Comparing the average PER of a current stock market index with what it was historically is a simplistic approximation and can lead to wrong conclusions. In fact, we should take into account the differences in ROE. In the big stock market indices (S&P 500 in the US, Euro Stoxx 50 in the Eurozone) companies with a greater ROE have been gaining more weight.
The fact the German bund (as well as the French bond) continue to offer significant yield differentials compared with the US bond, shows us we have not yet returned to complete interest rate normality after the euro crisis. But, since Macron’s elections as the President of France, the doubts over the irreversibility of the euro are dissipating.
Making judgements on “whether a market is expensive or cheap,” using aggregates of prices and earnings, is a very risky simplification. To begin with, there are companies which don’t make money or even lose it, and quite a lot of it. Responsible, professional investors don’t buy stock markets indices, they buy shares. They don’t invest “top-down” but rather “bottom-up”.
From a conservative standpoint, given the current dividend, the European bourse offers a higher return than the US stock market. At current prices, and taking into account the dividend paid against 2016 results, the Euro Stoxx 50 offers a dividend yield of 3.4% versus the 2.0% offered by the S&P 500. If we take as a reference the dividends estimated against 2017 or 2018 results, the outlook doesn’t vary much, maintaining a differential close to 1.5% of annual return, in favour of the European bourse.