Talking Point Schroders European equities could provide the better opportunity amid global uncertainty

September 2015
Talking Point
European equities could provide the better
opportunity amid global uncertainty
Rory Bateman, Head of UK & European Equities
Given recent equity market volatility, now is an opportune moment to re-assess our view of European
equities for the remainder of this year and into 2016. We continue to believe European equities could
offer the better investment opportunity in a world of increasing economic uncertainty.
Three key risks for European equity markets
The three key risks for equities as being Greece and eurozone turmoil, US interest rates, and a possible China
We have some respite from the Greek crisis given the recent bailout agreement and whilst there remain many
unresolved issues, there is a clear determination from the authorities on both sides to reach agreement.
With regard to the turn in the US rate cycle, never has there been so much coverage and anticipation of the
Federal Reserve’s move and we believe therefore the change is probably priced-in. In any case, over the last
25 years the US equity market has initially reacted negatively as interest rates increase, but the reaction is
temporary and has reversed within six months as the underlying health of the economy and corporate profits
become the key drivers.
The slowdown in China has been inevitable, but the degree of slowdown is an area of considerable debate and
the trigger for recent market volatility. We recognise that China has been through a government-led,
credit-fuelled expansion focused on investment and infrastructure. The economy needs to transition more
towards consumption and the government needs to ensure this rebalancing occurs without the economy
Recent market volatility has been caused by fears that the Chinese authorities will be unable to manage this
transition and as a result the 7% GDP growth target will be missed. There have been a series of policy actions,
such as trying to artificially inflate the stockmarket, which have impacted international investor confidence in
China. In addition, poor manufacturing data has shown the economy is slowing more rapidly than expected.
China slowdown likely to impact some export industries
Around 10% of goods exported from the EU go to China, nearly 70% of which are within the machinery,
transport and chemicals sectors. Whilst the growth of exports to China has been 9.8% p.a. from 2010-2014,
the absolute amounts involved are small at €165 billion when compared to intra-EU traded goods which is
approximately €2.8 trillion.
Our belief is that the long awaited recovery in Europe is happening and whilst specific industries will be
impacted by a Chinese slowdown, the momentum around Europe will continue given expanding credit,
structural reforms, improved business confidence and increasing consumer expenditure.
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As a reference point, it has taken seven years for the size of the eurozone economy to exceed the level
achieved in 2008. Exports to China helped prevent an even worse European recession during the eurozone
crisis, but now the much more important domestic engine of growth will ensure the European economy can
Preference for domestic-oriented firms
We particularly favour companies whose operations are focused on the domestic economy. Domestically
oriented stocks are seeing stronger positive earnings per share revisions than exporters but on average trade
at a substantial discount.
Whilst we believe the European recovery is on track and the impact from China will be limited, we
acknowledge that deflationary pressure from commodities and imports is likely to feed into inflation
expectations. In addition, continued currency devaluations in the emerging markets will reduce the relative
competitiveness of the euro.
These issues may demand a policy response from the European Central Bank at some point but our belief for
the coming 12 months is that European equities offer a relatively better investment choice when compared to
other markets around the world, and investors could use the weakness in markets to increase their exposure
to the recovery story.
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