Major stock indices continued their correction through the third quarter of 2015. Corporate revenue gains and product pricing have been weak. Concerns over slowing global growth and currency devaluations, starting with China, have added to uncertainty. Commodity-driven emerging markets have suffered over $1 trillion in outflows, the first net exodus in 27 years. So it shouldn’t be surprising that a long overdue 10% correction took place in a week in August. The price you pay for seeking superior compounded returns is enduring the volatility of free market pricing. The key to compounding is to stick with good companies when it gets ugly and painful.
It is also important to lighten up some during boom times. The commodities and energy sectors are suffering a huge hangover from China’s now-deflating construction bubble financed with mounting levels of debt. The Reuters/Jefferies (CRB) commodity index has now corrected 45% from the 2011 highs. Such global cyclical stocks, as a group, have trailed far behind high-quality consumer businesses, particularly those with strong brands that sell smaller ticket necessities like foods and beverages. The current market environment has some similarities to the markets in the mid-1990s. Japan in 1994 had a debt-driven boom similar to China’s today, with much of the proceeds going into construction. Mexico devalued the peso in 1994. By 1998 Russia defaulted on government bonds as oil prices crashed close to $10 a barrel, versus around $45 now. Asian countries then suffered a series of currency devaluations. These events heightened global investors’ ardor for the dollar, US assets and the perceived safety of our “rule of law” economy. Continue Reading »