Last updated: 08:04 / Thursday, 8 July 2021
Column by Gabelli Funds

Key Takeaways Behind New Record Highs in the US Stock Market

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  • The surprisingly strong March employment report bodes well for U.S. economic growth. This underscores the powerful ongoing U.S. fiscal policy and now prospective infrastructure stimulus, in combination with the Fed’s unprecedented easy monetary policy commitment to "maximum employment" and willingness to permit inflation to run "moderately above 2% for some time".
  • Global deal activity in the first quarter totalled $1.3 trillion, an increase of 94% compared to 2020, and the strongest first quarter on record. This was the third consecutive quarter that deal activity exceeded $1 trillion, and the second strongest quarter for deal activity ever
  • We anticipate convertible issuance to continue this year as it offers an attractive way for companies to add low cost capital to their balance sheets, particularly as interest rates move higher

The U.S. stock market rallied to a record closing high on the last day of March. The investment backdrop featured a disparate number of events, such as vaccination success, rising debt and ten year U.S. Treasury yields, and D.C. unrest, that generated high volatility cross currents for investors.  The surprisingly strong March employment report bodes well for U.S. economic growth. This underscores the powerful ongoing U.S. fiscal policy and now prospective infrastructure stimulus, in combination with the Fed’s unprecedented easy monetary policy commitment to "maximum employment" and willingness to permit inflation to run "moderately above 2% for some time".

Regarding surging U.S. debt levels, Mr. Powell made the following statement on March 25 during a National Public Radio interview, "Given the low level of interest rates, there's no issue about the United States being able to service its debt at this time or in the foreseeable future"... "Nonetheless, there will come a time -- and that time will be when the economy is back to full employment, and taxes are rolling in, and we're in a strong economy again -- when it will be appropriate to return to the issue of getting back on a sustainable fiscal path."

Back to basics – Deals. On April 1, in a plus for broadcasters, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Federal Communication Commission could repeal some local media ownership restrictions. Justice Kavanaugh summed it up: "The FCC reasoned that the historical justifications for those ownership rules no longer apply in today's media market, and that permitting efficient combinations among radio stations, television stations and newspapers would benefit consumers."

Looking more broadly, global deal activity in the first quarter totalled $1.3 trillion, an increase of 94% compared to 2020, and the strongest first quarter on record. This was the third consecutive quarter that deal activity exceeded $1 trillion, and the second strongest quarter for deal activity ever (behind only the second quarter of 2007 when deal activity totalled $1.4 trillion.) M&A in the U.S. was particularly strong, totalling $670 billion, tripling activity in Q1 2020. The most active sectors were Technology, Financials and Industrials. We believe the drivers for continued M&A strength remain: historically low interest rates, stimulative governmental policies, as well as more globally competitive corporate strategies adapting to changes in the business landscape hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Finally, the global convertible market saw issuance continue at a torrid pace in March. With over $58 Billion in issuance globally, this quarter was second only to 2Q 2020 in terms of total convertible issuance. While terms were quite aggressive earlier in the quarter, they began to get a bit more investor friendly in March as investors pushed back on the low yields and high premiums that came with aggressive volatility assumptions. With all of the activity in the primary market, there was a bit of weakness across existing issues, and there are many existing convertibles that now have more attractive pricing offering us the opportunity to invest for total return with an asymmetrical risk profile. We anticipate convertible issuance to continue this year as it offers an attractive way for companies to add low cost capital to their balance sheets, particularly as interest rates move higher.

 

 

 

 

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To access our proprietary value investment methodology, and dedicated merger arbitrage portfolio we offer the following UCITS Funds in each discipline:

GAMCO MERGER ARBITRAGE

GAMCO Merger Arbitrage UCITS Fund, launched in October 2011, is an open-end fund incorporated in Luxembourg and compliant with UCITS regulation. The team, dedicated strategy, and record dates back to 1985. The objective of the GAMCO Merger Arbitrage Fund is to achieve long-term capital growth by investing primarily in announced equity merger and acquisition transactions while maintaining a diversified portfolio. The Fund utilizes a highly specialized investment approach designed principally to profit from the successful completion of proposed mergers, takeovers, tender offers, leveraged buyouts and other types of corporate reorganizations. Analyzes and continuously monitors each pending transaction for potential risk, including: regulatory, terms, financing, and shareholder approval.

Merger investments are a highly liquid, non-market correlated, proven and consistent alternative to traditional fixed income and equity securities. Merger returns are dependent on deal spreads. Deal spreads are a function of time, deal risk premium, and interest rates. Returns are thus correlated to interest rate changes over the medium term and not the broader equity market. The prospect of rising rates would imply higher returns on mergers as spreads widen to compensate arbitrageurs. As bond markets decline (interest rates rise), merger returns should improve as capital allocation decisions adjust to the changes in the costs of capital.

Broad Market volatility can lead to widening of spreads in merger positions, coupled with our well-researched merger portfolios, offer the potential for enhanced IRRs through dynamic position sizing. Daily price volatility fluctuations coupled with less proprietary capital (the Volcker rule) in the U.S. have contributed to improving merger spreads and thus, overall returns. Thus our fund is well positioned as a cash substitute or fixed income alternative.

Our objectives are to compound and preserve wealth over time, while remaining non-correlated to the broad global markets. We created our first dedicated merger fund 32 years ago. Since then, our merger performance has grown client assets at an annualized rate of  approximately 10.7% gross and 7.6% net since 1985. Today, we manage assets on behalf of institutional and high net worth clients globally in a variety of fund structures and mandates.

Class I USD - LU0687944552
Class I EUR - LU0687944396
Class A USD - LU0687943745
Class A EUR - LU0687943661
Class R USD - LU1453360825
Class R EUR - LU1453361476

GAMCO ALL CAP VALUE

The GAMCO All Cap Value UCITS Fund launched in May, 2015 utilizes Gabelli’s its proprietary PMV with a Catalyst™ investment methodology, which has been in place since 1977. The Fund seeks absolute returns through event driven value investing. Our methodology centers around fundamental, research-driven, value based investing with a focus on asset values, cash flows and identifiable catalysts to maximize returns independent of market direction. The fund draws on the experience of its global portfolio team and 35+ value research analysts.

GAMCO is an active, bottom-up, value investor, and seeks to achieve real capital appreciation (relative to inflation) over the long term regardless of market cycles. Our value-oriented stock selection process is based on the fundamental investment principles first articulated in 1934 by Graham and Dodd, the founders of modern security analysis, and further augmented by Mario Gabelli in 1977 with his introduction of the concepts of Private Market Value (PMV) with a Catalyst™ into equity analysis. PMV with a Catalyst™ is our unique research methodology that focuses on individual stock selection by identifying firms selling below intrinsic value with a reasonable probability of realizing their PMV’s which we define as the price a strategic or financial acquirer would be willing to pay for the entire enterprise.  The fundamental valuation factors utilized to evaluate securities prior to inclusion/exclusion into the portfolio, our research driven approach views fundamental analysis as a three pronged approach:  free cash flow (earnings before, interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or EBITDA, minus the capital expenditures necessary to grow/maintain the business); earnings per share trends; and private market value (PMV), which encompasses on and off balance sheet assets and liabilities. Our team arrives at a PMV valuation by a rigorous assessment of fundamentals from publicly available information and judgement gained from meeting management, covering all size companies globally and our comprehensive, accumulated knowledge of a variety of sectors. We then identify businesses for the portfolio possessing the proper margin of safety and research variables from our deep research universe.

Class I USD - LU1216601648
Class I EUR - LU1216601564
Class A USD - LU1216600913
Class A EUR - LU1216600673
Class R USD - LU1453359900
Class R EUR - LU1453360155

GAMCO CONVERTIBLE SECURITIES

GAMCO Convertible Securities’ objective is to seek to provide current income as well as long term capital appreciation through a total return strategy by investing in a diversified portfolio of global convertible securities.

The Fund leverages the firm’s history of investing in dedicated convertible security portfolios since 1979.

The fund invests in convertible securities, as well as other instruments that have economic characteristics similar to such securities, across global markets (but the fund will not invest in contingent convertible notes). The fund may invest in securities of any market capitalization or credit quality, including up to 100% in below investment grade or unrated securities, and may from time to time invest a significant amount of its assets in securities of smaller companies. Convertible securities may include any suitable convertible instruments such as convertible bonds, convertible notes or convertible preference shares.

By actively managing the fund and investing in convertible securities, the investment manager seeks the opportunity to participate in the capital appreciation of underlying stocks, while at the same time relying on the fixed income aspect of the convertible securities to provide current income and reduced price volatility, which can limit the risk of loss in a down equity market.

Class I USD          LU2264533006

Class I EUR          LU2264532966

Class A USD        LU2264532701

Class A EUR        LU2264532610

Class R USD         LU2264533345

Class R EUR         LU2264533261

Class F USD         LU2264533691

Class F EUR         LU2264533428 

 

 

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The information and any opinions have been obtained from or are based on sources believed to be reliable but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. No responsibility can be accepted for any consequential loss arising from the use of this information. The information is expressed at its date and is issued only to and directed only at those individuals who are permitted to receive such information in accordance with the applicable statutes. In some countries the distribution of this publication may be restricted. It is your responsibility to find out what those restrictions are and observe them.

Some of the statements in this presentation may contain or be based on forward looking statements, forecasts, estimates, projections, targets, or prognosis (“forward looking statements”), which reflect the manager’s current view of future events, economic developments and financial performance. Such forward looking statements are typically indicated by the use of words which express an estimate, expectation, belief, target or forecast. Such forward looking statements are based on an assessment of historical economic data, on the experience and current plans of the investment manager and/or certain advisors of the manager, and on the indicated sources. These forward looking statements contain no representation or warranty of whatever kind that such future events will occur or that they will occur as described herein, or that such results will be achieved by the fund or the investments of the fund, as the occurrence of these events and the results of the fund are subject to various risks and uncertainties. The actual portfolio, and thus results, of the fund may differ substantially from those assumed in the forward looking statements. The manager and its affiliates will not undertake to update or review the forward looking statements contained in this presentation, whether as result of new information or any future event or otherwise.

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