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Investing Amid a Rising Range of Outcomes
The Q1 market selloff was broad-based and intense, fueled by deep uncertainty about the pandemic’s true threat. In our view, the market did little to discriminate among individual firms, preferring to re-rate sectors given the short timeframe, rapid price action and lack of information.
Of course, our process is built to capitalize on market dislocations, when fear and uncertainty dominate, as is the case in our current environment. But we are also vigilantly risk-aware. This is where a thoughtful and repeatable process makes all the difference.
Six Noteworthy Oil-Related Charts
Oil has been the lead story recently—for a few reasons. In January, Saudi Arabia and Russia kicked off a heated competition for market share—after several years of cooperating and coordinating output in order to attempt to control oil prices. The result has been a well-documented collapse in oil prices—and growing challenges for oil producers and investors alike. Though it seems the near-term race to the bottom may have concluded, it also seems unlikely prices rocket back in the near term. Here are six interesting charts showcasing some of the recent phenomena.
A Closer Look at Global Fiscal Packages
Governments globally have responded to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic variously—some have effectively shuttered their economies, full stop; others have taken less radical approaches (like Sweden). Similarly on the fiscal front, some governments have passed sweeping spending packages aimed at dulling a full shutdown’s likely economic impact. Top of this list in terms of scale is the US, where Congress passed and the President signed a roughly $2 trillion aid package on 27 March 2020. In the intervening weeks (yes, it’s only been weeks—believe it or not), some countries have followed suit—in intention if not in magnitude. Japan’s cabinet approved a $1 trillion package on 7 April. The EU is struggling to agree on a €500 billion package (more on the EU momentarily).
Maintaining a Long-Term Orientation Amid Heightened Volatility
Amid significant market volatility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our investment philosophy. With a foundation in long-term structural tailwinds, resilient businesses and strong operators, our approach is designed for not only good times but challenging ones as well. Acknowledging the unprecedented nature of these circumstances and the uncertainty of a global health crisis, we thought a few words about our investment approach and how the investment team is spending its time would be appropriate.
Backed by the Fed, Corporates Borrow Record Amount
Despite the worst selloff for credit since the great financial crisis, investment grade companies set a record level of new issuance in March. The thawing of primary market activities comes just two weeks after the Fed returned to its crisis-era playbook, announcing several new emergency lending facilities to contain the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic—including the unprecedent measure of purchasing investment grade debt in both the primary and secondary markets. Facing evaporating liquidity and a severe contraction in credit conditions, the Fed effectively moved to become the liquidity provider of last resort to facilitate price discovery, reopen primary market activity and stave off the risk of a potential credit crisis.
Evolution of a Crisis Response—Part 5: Market Liquidity
This is part 5 in a series discussing Artisan Partners’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here.
Long-term, sophisticated relationships require two willing partners. By design, our client base consists of long-term, sophisticated investors in two primary groups: 66% of our AUM is from institutional clients, and 29% of our AUM is sourced through financial intermediaries—including broker/dealers, bank trust departments and financial advisors. Over the years, these two groups have adopted similar research processes for selecting their investment management partners and have asked relatively similar questions of us. As I alluded to in my last post, one of the critical recent questions we’ve been getting is how liquidity currently looks in the markets—a multifaceted question.
Evolution of a Crisis Response—Part 4: The Perspective Shifts
This is part 4 in a series discussing Artisan Partners’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read part 1 here, part 2 here and part 3 here.
Leading a large organization during a global crisis gives you a front-row seat to clients’ and shareholders’ evolving thought processes and concerns. We started receiving questions from our clients in early March. At first, their focus was primarily on our business continuity plan—whether we have a formal plan and structure in place to allow us to continue business as usual and whether we were prepared to deploy it should circumstances warrant. Clients asked questions like: Could our employees work from home if necessary? Would our systems and existing technology support a remote workforce? As discussed in prior posts, business continuity planning has long been part of our normal operations, so we were pleased to readily answer these early questions in the affirmative.
Over the ensuing weeks, the questions’ tenor shifted a few times.
Navigating Volatility in Global Equity Markets
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to drive heightened uncertainty and historic daily volatility, we thought an update may be appropriate. We are closely monitoring this rapidly evolving situation, remaining focused on our deep company analysis in order to understand the impacts to businesses’ growth outlooks, as appropriate. As this crisis has unfolded, companies have revised their revenue and earnings outlooks sharply lower. While supply-chain disruptions emanated from China as early as January, the economies of Western Europe and the US are just now experiencing their corresponding demand shocks.
Evolution of a Crisis Response—Part 3: Communication
This is part 3 in a series discussing Artisan Partners’ response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Read part 1 here and part 2 here.
With our associates around the world working from home, one of the next challenges was ensuring they were all talking effectively under unusual circumstances. From a business standpoint, it doesn’t really matter if everyone is working remotely if they’re unable to maintain their standard practices and actually get their jobs done efficiently and well. Communication is paramount during periods of uncertainty—not only with and among our associates, but also with our clients and shareholders.