Global Investing

Between optimism and pessimism

“Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria. The time of maximum pessimism is the best time to buy, and the time of maximum optimism is the best time to sell,” wrote late billionaire investor and philanthropist John Templeton in 1994.

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Investors might have done exactly that. After hitting a trough in March 2009, world stocks have gained  83 percent, with many analysts and investors saying that the rally may have further to run.

But with valuations becoming less attractive compared with the absolute trough last year, what should investors buy now?

Scott Phillips, portfolio manager and principal with Lauren Templeton Capital Management, writes in his latest book the following investment themes would maintain their fundamental appeal over the next 5-10 years.

Agribusiness. Booming economies in the developing world especially in China and India helped improve the lifestyles and diets, with protein intakes in these countries rising dramatically. It might be reasonable to expect protein in particular poultry to experience a solid long-term growth pattern thanks to its low cost and healthier attributes. Increasing need for convenience – such as ready-to-eat meals- in the Chinese diet also bolsters demand.

Sustainable investing in emerging markets?

jumpEmerging markets may not be the obvious destination for your ethical investment. Rapidly expanding economies are consuming a lot of energy, pumping CO2 in return. Many of these markets suffer from legal and political problems that keep investors on their guard.  BRIC legal systems have room for development.  Their financial disclosure is still patchy. 

However, BNP Paribas sees opportunities as it believes fast growth in these markets and increased inflows would create the need for a socially sustainable environment for investment.

“Our analysis has unearthed a number of particularly promising sustainable investment strategies in emerging markets. In each of these cases we see a real economic need linked to maintaining high growth rates, but also evidence that policymakers are recognising this need and are putting in place the necessary policy measures to facilitate this development,” the French bank said in its latest Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) newsletter.

from Summit Notebook:

Being socially responsible investor in the Gulf

Socially responsible investing, which takes into account social, environmental and governance risks, is arguably still in its infancy in the Gulf, where the enormous wealth created by hydrocarbons sometimes flows into extravagant projects like an indoor ski resort.

But Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, managing director of Abraaj Capital -- the Middle East's biggest private equity firm -- sees SRI as enlightened self interest and the firm puts its own money where its mouth is.

Fred Sicre, executive director of Abraaj, told us the firm -- which signs up to United Nations Principles for Responsible Investing (UNPRI) -- has a 5+5+5 plan, where it encourages employees to donate 5% of bonuses to a charitable pool, 5 days for community/charitable work and the firm itself gives 5% of net revenues to a charity. Sicre himself taught at the first class yesterday on entrepreneureship.

from Summit Notebook:

Time private bankers got professional

It's hard to imagine that a banker who represents multimillionaires would be anything but professional - but a top executive at a leading global bank thinks that's precisely the wealth management industry's problem.

"There is so much mediocrity in the industry we have to raise the bar here," said Gerard Aquilina, vice chairman of Barclays Wealth, at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit in Geneva.

    To Aquilina's way of thinking, private bankers need the same "institutional rigor" as investment bankers in the way they operate. To this end the bank is looking to pursue only top-quality hires.

Real-estate investors go back to schools

The old adage – there is no better time to go back to school than during a recession – seems to ring true for real estate investments as well.******With recession-wary workers and rising international interest driving up university applications, student home operators in the UK are enjoying near 100 percent occupancies, with rents predicted to go up 10 percent this year.******In contrast, other property classes in the UK such as offices, shopping malls and factories have seen values plunge a startling 45 percent since mid-2007. And the recession means rents are forecast to fall as much as 15 percent this year as landlords face the rising threat of tenant defaults.******As I wrote earlier, investors such as pension funds that were burnt by traditional commercial assets are now turning to the student accommodation market for the projected growth and steady returns other parts of the market aren’t delivering.******

Students pack up their dorm room after graduating from university in the city of Xian, Shaanxi Province July 3, 2004. REUTERS/China Photos WC/FA******Student homes specialists King Sturge estimates that average rents jumped 7 to 10 percent annually in the last five years and can go up 10 percent this year, although it sees the yearly increase moderating to 5-7 percent for the next few years with new entrants to the market.******Branded student housing can be very pricey and the best stuff are a far cry from crowded, slum-like dorms that some of the world’s students have to put up with: high-end versions in London that offer en-suite bathrooms, flat-screen TVs and laundry services cost up to 300 pounds a week.******With the belt-tightening that comes with a recession, parents may groan about the higher costs of student housing for their university-bound offspring.******But operators expect there will be those who are still willing stump up the cash, if only to ensure their children make it for classes.******”First year students usually can’t find housemates to rent with, and there is no guarantee the flat will be near to school,” says Gabriel Behr of the University Partnerships Programme, a student homes operator owned by funds under Barclays Private Equity, which is developing over 700 new rooms for King’s College London.******”Are parents willing to stick their kids somewhere five miles away from class?” he asked me.