Last updated: 09:35 / Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Column by Henderson

Innovation and Demographics: Growth Opportunities From Global Themes

Innovation and Demographics: Growth Opportunities From Global Themes

Six years into a stock market recovery fuelled by coordinated and repeated bouts of quantitative easing, equities have arrived at a very interesting point in the road. The asset purchasing intervention by many of the developed world’s central banks drove bond yields to historic lows, forcing traditional yield-hungry fixed income investors to venture into the equity markets. While it is difficult to argue that, overall, valuations in equity markets are not now becoming somewhat stretched relative to historic levels, when compared to the meagre returns on offer from fixed income, the premium to historical averages looks easier to justify.

The Henderson Global Growth strategy applies a thematic overlay to identify areas of the market that are underpinned by a disruptive innovation or demographic trend, which is expected to drive long-term secular growth. Here, managers Ian Warmerdam and Ronan Kelleher analyse the themes of Energy Efficiency, Healthcare Innovation and Internet Transformation.

Higher growth has become overlooked

In recent years, there has been a keen focus and significant investment in high yielding equities, typically characterised by low growth and mature businesses, and this has led to a corresponding increase in relative valuations in this area versus the wider market. The knock on effect of this has been, in Henderson´s view, that parts of the higher growth areas of the stock market have become overlooked, resulting in attractive entry points for the longer term investor. This is precisely the area of the stock market in which we operate, scouring the globe for pockets of underappreciated long-term secular growth.

Thematic-based opportunities

On the Henderson Global Growth strategy Ian Warmerdam and Ronan Kelleher, managers at Henderson, apply a thematic overlay to identify areas of the market that may provide stock ideas that fulfil our long-term, fundamental investment criteria. Both maintain a focus on a small number of themes; each underpinned by a disruptive innovation or demographic trend that is expected to drive secular growth over the long term. Henderson current themes include: Energy Efficiency, Paperless Payment, Healthcare Innovation, Internet Transformation and Emerging Markets Growth. Here, we touch on three, but all provide a breadth and depth of investment opportunities.

Energy Efficiency: going Continental

"Energy Efficiency is a theme that has served us well in recent times", said Warmerdam and Kelleher. The quest for greater energy efficiency is being driven by a combination of factors; environmental concerns, rationalisation of finite reserves of carbon-based fuels and governments’ pursuit of energy independence. Confronting these issues, governments in countries covering 80% of global passenger vehicle sales have set stringent targets for fuel economy or emissions.

In the US, for example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has mandated that the average passenger car’s fuel economy must increase from around 35 miles per gallon (mpg) today to 56mpg by 2025. Continental, the German listed manufacturer of auto components and tyres, benefits from these trends. The company enjoys strong market positions across its powertrain division, which integrates innovative and efficient vehicle system solutions with a broad portfolio of engine parts from turbochargers to start-stop technology, geared towards increasing fuel efficiency and reducing emissions.

Healthcare Innovation: ‘MinuteClinics’

"Another fruitful hunting ground for long-term growth has been Healthcare Innovation. Here we are attracted by the demographic changes at play as an ageing global population, as shown in the chart below, struggles to contain ever rising healthcare costs. Increases in life expectancy mean that the global 60+ age group is expected to double by 2050 to two billion people. We are attracted to companies such as CVS Health, the US pharmacy chain, which provides an integrated health care service for its customers", point out both managers at Henderson. For example, they said, CVS now operates around 1,000 walk-in “MinuteClinics” across its 7,800 stores where patients can get a variety of everyday illnesses and injuries treated at a fraction of the time and cost of going to see a GP.

Internet Transformation: moving online

Finally, Warmerdam y Kelleher explained that Rightmove, a long-term holding within our Internet Transformation theme, is a stock we continue to like. The leading online UK property listings company has had a turbulent 18 months following a period of uncertainty surrounding the impact of a third entrant into its market. "We believe the proficient founder-led management team at Rightmove has done an impressive job at the helm, and the company has rightfully emerged as a more dominant leader in a market that should continue to benefit from the structural shift in advertising spend from offline to online", concluded.