Last updated: 12:08 / Tuesday, 11 June 2013
Interview with K. Dickson

"European Markets Have Climbed the Wall of Worry"

"European Markets Have Climbed the Wall of Worry"

Kathleen Dickson, Director in BlackRock in charge of explaining to clients how the team portfolios are positioned talks with Funds Society about her views for the eurozone, claiming that since 2007, European markets have climbed the wall of worry.

During her second visit to Mexico with BlackRock, she mentions that since the bottom in 2009 of European valuations, in euro terms, the eurostoxx 600 has almost risen by 100%, and although current valuations are not as attractive as 12 months ago, the hunt for yield makes them an interesting asset. The Executive mentions that the fact that Draghi put a line under the financial crisis stating that the ECB would do whatever it takes to insure financial security for the eurozone -like buying short duration bonds in the market, an equivalent to Quantitative Easing - as well as the fact that Europe offers 4% yield –the highest yield in developed markets-, and positive earnings growth potential are giving security to investors and have the potential to allow the market to develop positively.

Dickson also commented that when looking at yields as the barometer of risk appetite, the fact that the yields that blew out last summer have gone back to normal is proof that the financial crisis is been dealt with. She mentions that there might be a “turning point in September with the German election but once got through that, with a positive outcome, we could see the market continue to do well”.

Amongst the initiatives she would like to see implemented to further growth are a transmission of lending in order to get money in the real economy, via an increase of lending to small business, and the banking sector repairing their balance sheet, to better solvency.

About her expectations going forward Dickson mentions that she sees positive flows in the future. “Investors are more willing to look at Europe. Europe is cheap, European valuations are trading on a significant discount to the US market”, stating that if investors currently underweight in their European positions come back or move from high yield bonds into euro equity, ownership level will move to a natural balance.

Speaking of their preferences in the market, she highlights consumer discretionary, mentioning their position is neutral on financials and low in utilities and telecom given their low growth and highly regulated environments.

When it comes to choosing a company to acquire positions in, income plays a huge part, and so their portfolios are highly geared toward earnings growth and international earners (50% of MSCI European companies revenues are generated outside Europe). “We are no buying countries, we allocate to companies with earnings elsewhere, like the Industrial sector”. In general looking for opportunities to tap into foreign growth through individual companies.

Kathleen Dickson, with over 22 years of experience in the markets, is in charge of managing the business side of a variety of alpha generating portfolios with over 26 billion usd in assets from a variety of institutional clients like pension funds or insurance companies. Amongst her team's most popular funds are the BGF European Fund, BGF Euromarkets and the Absolute Return Long Short.