Credit Suisse pans U.S. in investing strategy for 2014
Credit Suisse issued its regional allocation for global investors on Monday, where the firm’s Andrew Garthwaite sees several key changes taking place in the second half of 2014. Keep in mind that this was also the same day as a tactical Goldman Sachs upgrade of its S&P 500 price target to 2,050. Garthwaite’s allocation was not obvious in direction going into the report.
The first change was a downgrade of Continental Europe from 13% to 8% overweight, calling it in a summer limbo. Relative earnings revisions are even worse there, and LTROs will not be implemented until September and inflation is likely to trough in August. Another negative is a P/E premium running close to 14-year highs. Garthwaite did say the reason for not downgrading it further is that his base case forecast over the next three years is for 39% earnings per share growth, up to 60% best case, versus a US forecast of 28% earnings growth.
The United Kingdom was downgraded to underweight. Garthwaite said that the UK is the most defensive major region at a time when global GDP growth is forecast to accelerate. More rate hikes and the notion that the UK’s traditional P/E discount has almost vanished were two negatives.
Japan was raised to overweight, from 2% to 8%. Garthwaite said that accelerating purchasing manager data supports Japan, and the firm thinks more quantitative easing is now 60% likely. Garthwaite even said to Buy Toyota Motor and Fuji Heavy Industries.
Unfortunately, bad news was given for the United States. Garthwaite signaled that investors should remain underweight the US. Price-to-book ratios are close to an alltime high, and then there is the notion that the US underperforms generally when global growth reaccelerates. Then there is the risk of rising rates as well. Lastly, relative earnings revisions are peaking.
Credit Suisse’s main note is to remain benchmarked to global emerging markets. Garthwaite said,
“Both currency and equity valuation measures are neutral. The problems are that we are structural bears of China, unemployment in many regions is abnormally low, private sector leverage abnormally high, and relative performance is closely correlated with commodities, on which we are negative. The global emerging market basket now trades as a defensive group – outperforming if US bond yields fall.”
The firm also is biased toward commodity importers. It is in favor of Korea, India and Taiwan; but warns that much of Latin America still looks unattractive.
Nothing in here sounds like any imminent danger, but it may just be one more negative instance that the bears can point to in support of betting against US equities.