Heather Arnold spends all day assessing the prospects for the world’s economies and their stock markets, and doesn’t see too much to worry about.
China — the epicenter of market turmoil that’s reverberated around the world — is in a natural growth transition, and neither the nation’s yuan policy nor its slumping equities should be a big concern to global investors, says the director of research at Templeton Global Advisors Ltd. Low oil prices will be cured by, well, low oil prices, as production is cut in the U.S. while demand steadily climbs. Arnold is buying more shares.
“The depth of pessimism that’s out there seems unwarranted,” Bahamas-based Arnold, who also oversees about $42 billion as a fund manager at Templeton, said on a visit to Tokyo this week. This is “ultimately for us a good thing.”
Global equities erased about $7.8 trillion in value this year as the slowdown in China and rout in crude weigh on sentiment. Stocks in Shanghai, Tokyo and Europe are in bear markets, a measure of commodities is near an all-time low, and the yen jumped as investors sought havens, while others moved to cash.
Arnold sees Europe as the cheapest market, using measures including cyclically adjusted price to earnings. It’s the area where they’re most overweight, she said. The next-best opportunities are in emerging market shares, particularly Asian financial companies, Arnold said.
The Templeton Growth Fund, the largest of 16 funds she helps manage with $14.1 billion in assets, has lost 11 percent this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The $6.4 billion Templeton Foreign Fund is down 13 percent. While Arnold’s calm about the rout, she says she’s far from complacent.
“Relaxed is probably an overstatement,” she said. “When you’re managing people’s money, you’re ever vigilant, because you do look at what’s going on and try as best you can to say, is there new news in this? But when we look out, we’re still very optimistic.”
On China, she says the equity market is going through teething pains and it doesn’t say much about the underlying economy. Local investors were overexcited from the middle of 2014 and shares went too high, and now they’re too pessimistic, she said. The Shanghai Composite Index surged 151 percent from July 2014 to a peak last June. It’s since dropped 44 percent.
For Arnold, China’s slower expansion as it shifts to a services-oriented economy is a normal transition, albeit one made more volatile by high levels of debt. Her view contrasts with billionaire investor George Soros, who said on Thursday that the world’s second-biggest economy is facing a hard landing that will contribute to global deflationary pressures, prompting him to wager against U.S. stocks.