Each week, a professional investor tells MoneyWeek where he'd put his money now. This week:Paras Anand, manager of the F&C European Income and Growth Fund.
Concerns clearly remain over the sustainability of the economic recovery. These are the result of the ebbing impact of last year's QE programmes combined with the looming spectre of austerity measures and the fiscal tightening already being undertaken in peripheral European countries.
The market is wrestling with opposing views reasonable performance from companies versus a mixed and worrying macroeconomic picture. We are perhaps at the more optimistic end of the spectrum, believing that near-term concerns may potentially be well discounted in the markets. Indeed, our analysis suggests that earnings and the potential prospects for growth from good quality businesses, especially those with structural rather than cyclical growth characteristics, are good.
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Moreover, although the process of countries with the highest burden of sovereign debt 'taking their medicine' may hit short-term economic performance, this should ultimately reduce their risk premium. Monetary policy will also remain accommodative for countries with much stronger fundamentals. In the decade up to 2007, policy was skewed in favour of the periphery economies with ultra low inflation in the core and higher inflation in the periphery. We believe this situation will reverse. Overall, therefore, we anticipate that economic growth could surprise the very pessimistic view currently being discounted by the bond markets. So our focus is on companies with solid economics, robust balance sheets and growth prospects that aren't solely reliant on the economic cycle. Here are three stocks we currently like.
We have a long-term position in Glanbia (LSE: GLB), an Irish-domiciled dairy products business and the second-largest manufacturer of cheese in the world. The business has evolved over the years into areas with more fundamentally attractive growth prospects and higher profitability. The firm produces infant formulae, sports and personal nutrition products and processed cheese for quick-service restaurants. It also offers products which cater to the changing tastes in developing markets. It has a good history of capital allocation which we believe will generate attractive earnings in cashflow over many years.
Another business we like is Credit Suisse Group (VX: CSGN). The market still has a broad aversion to financial businesses. But we are far more optimistic about the important role of capital markets in a world where business and finance is conducted on a global basis. Cross-border mergers, multi-regional capital raisings and the demand for private wealth management services are, we believe, areas of structural growth. Credit Suisse Group has a sound balance sheet, is primarily a fee-based business and pays an attractive dividend yield.
Lastly, we like Adidas Group (DE: ADS), partly because of our view on the risk of rising inflation in many western economies. In this environment we favour equities with genuine pricing power. Adidas is the number two performance footwear and sports apparel manufacturer worldwide. The growing adoption of sports, such as football and golf, should support its revenue base for many years to come. One of the most underestimated factors associated with brands such as Adidas is that the longer they survive, the more valuable they become. That in turn effectively raises the barrier to new entrants.
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