In the new year, the markets have seen a well-documented, near-record selloff for stocks, despite today’s mixed returns. However, the broad nature of this “mini-maelstrom of selling” has also exposed opportunities for the astute investor, says Zachary Karabell. Moreover, he said markets (and could have said investors) “have extremely short-term memories.”
In an Envestnet webinar after the market close on Wednesday, Karabell — Head of Global Strategy at Envestnet — plumbed the insights of three market experts to expose where they see opportunities “amid the noise.”
One of those experts, David Polak of Capital Group (which runs American Funds), said in passing that “these are the times when active managers earn their corn,” a British-ism equating to “earn their keep.”
While from a macro perspective the markets are certainly “gloomy,” Polak said that from an individual company perspective, the structural changes in the world’s economy “present a lot of risk but also opportunity.” Take China, for instance. Polak said that China is certainly in the midst of a significant transition, moving from a “fixed asset-based economy to one built more on services, which will eventually lead to a more balanced economy.” While some market watchers are concerned about the Chinese government’s ability to control its markets and economy while that transition plays out, Polak is not in that camp. “Chinese officials do have a degree of control,” he said, wondering not so idly “wouldn’t it be interesting if the Chinese government was to cut capital requirements for banks?” Wouldn’t that — or similar unilateral measures — help turn around China’s slowing growth and ease investors’ concerns?
As for oil, Polak said the current price freefall “feels like a supply shock,” which can often lead to economic growth. He admitted, however, that oil is in a “feedback loop” where energy master limited partnerships are “down significantly,” and where signs of an industrial slowdown in U.S. “add to the feedback loop; it’s easy to construct a very bearish narrative.”
Speaking of MLPs, panelist J. Alan Lenahan from, deputy CIO of Fund Evaluation Group, said that “some are rightfully under pressure,” especially drilling MLPs. However, he pointed out that “the majority of MLPs are in the midstream” part of the energy chain. There, dividends have been growing, Lenahan reported, and while there “could be some issues as low oil prices settle in the markets,” energy MLPs are “becoming very attractive.”