Investors and consultants frequently ask for the Global Value team’s views on sustainable investing. While we do not offer strategies that focus in this area, we do pay close attention to issues of sustainability because they may be a key to a company’s resilience over the long term. Some investors see the energy sector as the antithesis of sustainability, but we see things differently. In this interview, Benj Bahr, energy-sector analyst on the Global Value team, explains why.
Fund of America is a fundamental research-driven strategy that seeks to identify undervalued companies that can benefit from catalysts for corporate change.
While we suffered extreme volatility, we continued to believe that for the great majority of these stocks, our investment thesis remains sound. We have been steadfast because, in our view, the idiosyncratic nature of our stock theses—the corporate change elements—have been temporarily overridden by multiple compression, as opposed to thesis erosion or significant earnings deterioration.
While this may have seemed like a replay of early 2009, the periods were actually quite different. In 2009, the financial market crisis was deeper, and it was accompanied by an economic crisis. In the fourth quarter of 2018, we saw a meaningful correction in global stock markets, but we did not see meaningful weakness in the underlying real economies of the world. Unemployment rates, for example, remained at cyclical lows. This was a moment of risk aversion rather than a crisis.
The fourth quarter of 2018 saw a dramatic change in world equity markets as the narrow bull market of the first nine months of the year gave way to a broad bear market. At the end of September, markets were at or close to their peaks, and implied volatility, as measured by the CBOE VIX Index, was in the low teens.