July 9, 2019

30% Of The Companies In The Russell Are Unprofitable

Today we have 3 suggestions for portfolio positioning in 2H 2019. First, overweight US equities; ever more negative global interest rates over recent weeks are a warning sign. Second, expect more volatility from late July (post Fed meeting) through October; seasonality and fundamentals align on this point. Lastly, be cautious on US small caps; they are more cyclical than large caps and are levered to financial conditions.

From a fundamental standpoint, nothing much good happened in the first half of 2019. Specifically:

  • We didn’t get a US-China trade deal, and based on current press accounts we’re further away now than we were on January 1st. Moreover, bilateral tariffs are higher now than just a few months ago and apply to more goods.

  • Corporate earnings growth has been slipping. For example, first quarter S&P 500 earnings were slightly negative as compared to last year. Analysts expect the same for Q2, and margins are lower than a year ago for both quarters.

  • Slowing global growth. The export-driven German economy, long a bright spot in the Eurozone, likely slipped into contraction in Q2. Japan’s economy managed to post +2.2% GDP growth in Q1, but Q2 will almost certainly be slower. China’s economy has benefited from some easing of financial conditions, but trade tensions are clearly taking a toll as we start Q3.

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