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      • Growth Team Weekly Investment Insights

        14 February 2024   |  

        1) Why Central Banks May Be Reluctant to Declare Victory Over Inflation

        This Financial Times article highlighted a few reasons global policymakers may hesitate to declare that inflation is under control. Most notably, economic strength, particularly in labor markets, may be too good.

      • Vroom, Vroom, Vroom!

        12 February 2024   |  

        Did you hear that sound? That was the sound of Vroom’s engine shutting down. If you’re not familiar with the name, Vroom, was, an online-only used car retailer, which along with Carvana and several other upstarts, aimed to disrupt the incumbent “old-school” auto retailing model. With the announcement that Vroom is winding down its e-commerce operations, we looked back at our Q2 2021 portfolio letter. In it, we compared the business of Vroom to one of the incumbents, AutoNation, through the lens of our three margin of safety investment criteria: business economics, financial condition and valuation.

        At the time, both businesses were valued at roughly the same market value, approximately $5.5bn, so we posed the question: if you had to pick one of these two businesses to buy, which would you choose?

      • A Glimmer of Gold in the Pacific

        07 February 2024   |  

        Hiding behind the picturesque beaches, tropical rainforests, and immense coral reef biodiversity of Papua New Guinea is a precarious socio-economic situation. High unemployment, crime and a volatile political landscape often dominate the headlines of the natural-resource rich pacific nation and have hindered economic development. However, tailwinds from ongoing and prospective natural resource projects along with a recent push for fiscal reforms poise the country for an upswing and position it for increasing geopolitical importance.

      • Growth Team Weekly Investment Insights

        08 February 2024   |  

        1. Hot jobs report and Fed Speak takes March cut off the table

        Last week the Fed held rates steady at the 5.25% - 5.5% level but pushed back a bit on expectations for near term cuts due to a desire for “greater confidence” that inflation will return to the 2% goal or if the labor market weakened.

      • Democracy’s Blockbuster Year

        23 January 2024   |  

        2024 is expected to be one of the biggest election years on record with more than half of the world’s population planning to go to the polls. This busy election calendar comes at a particularly opportune time as geo-political tensions are running high across the globe.

      • Thoughts and Takeaways From The EMsights Annual Research Retreat

        03 January 2024   |  

        The EMsights Capital Group held their annual research retreat in December. For two days the investment team gathered off-site to recap the events of 2023 and look forward to 2024. This year’s agenda also featured several outside speakers ranging in expertise from the Russia/Ukraine war to the current health of the US economy.

        Over the course of the two days, the team identified several cross-regional trends they expect to remain prominent in 2024:

      • The Case for a Dedicated Allocation to Mid Caps

        20 December 2023   |  

        In our previous blog post “Narrow Leadership Creates Opportunity”, we highlighted the attractive valuations of US mid-cap stocks, which are at their cheapest levels relative to large caps in over 20 years. As value investors, we distinctly understand the importance of starting-point valuations for forward returns, however you don’t have to be a value investor to appreciate the asset class’s appeal.

        Since 1979, the Russell Midcap® Index has outperformed both the Russell 1000® and 2000® indices (Exhibit 1) on an annualized basis by 0.8 percentage points and 1.9 percentage points, respectively. While that may seem small, the power of compounding can result in large differences as one’s time horizon expands.

      • Unworkable Common Framework

        11 December 2023   |  

        Zambia defaulted in 2020 on its sovereign bonds and has been on an unrelenting quest to restructure its debt since. While finding itself in distress is not notable, the country’s plan to find its way out may be. Zambia serves as the first meaningful test of the Common Framework—a Group of 20 (G20) initiative to simplify and accelerate the sovereign debt restructuring process. In a perfect world, this initiative should create a quick and successful resolution for Zambia and pave the way for other emerging economies seeking debt-relief. Unfortunately, as we know all too well, the world is far from perfect.

      • Is Argentina Out Of The Woods Yet?

        21 November 2023   |  

        On Sunday, November 19, Argentina elected Javier Milei to be its next president in a decisive run-off election. Radical libertarian outsider, Milei, defeated Sergio Massa, the country’s Minister of Economy since August 2022. Voters, investors, and business owners are hopeful Milei’s libertarian policies, which are a drastic divergence from the current policies, will aid Argentina’s recession-prone economy. The country is currently facing inflation topping 140%, interest rates at 130%, dwindling central bank reserves, and a weakening currency regime. However, the grass may not be greener on the other side. Implementing Milei’s policies will be a challenge without a congressional majority, and his abrupt, “chainsaw” approach may backfire. Even Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, which visited Buenos Aires last week, could not boost this economy—is there anything that can?!

      • Narrow Leadership Creates Opportunity

        13 November 2023   |  

        The US equity market’s narrow leadership in 2023 is well chronicled, but it’s nearly impossible to overstate.  The “Magnificent Seven”, as the largest seven US stocks have been dubbed, have dominated YTD equity returns—contributing, in effect, 100% of the S&P 500 Index’s total return (through October).

        These seven stocks have returned on average 84%, compared to -3% for the “S&P 493”, and more than half of S&P 500 stocks have generated negative returns. In fact, the equal-weight S&P 500® Index is lagging the market-cap weighted S&P 500 by the most since 1998 as the S&P 500 Index is up over 10%, while the equal-weighted S&P 500 was down ~2% through October.