The Henderson Horizon Euroland Fund utilises a proprietary analytical screening tool to identify stocks that are being incorrectly priced and offer value in the market. This is a model that fund manager Nick Sheridan has been developing since he first started running money in the late 1980s. The model is based around four key metrics: ‘Dividends; Earnings; Net Asset Value; and Value of Growth’, with the portfolio constructed from those stocks that offer the most overall value. This article looks at the ‘Earnings’ pillar in more detail.
“Higher corporate earnings has been the missing piece of the puzzle for European equities, but this seems to have finally started to come through, with most companies at least in line with estimates during the latest earnings season. Loose monetary policy and quantitative easing (QE) have helped, as has the currency advantage provided by a weaker euro” points out Sheridan.
Furthermore, while the negative effects of falling energy costs are well known, for many companies (and particularly those involved in travel, transportation and retail, plus energy-intensive industries) lower energy costs provide a significant boost to net earnings, freeing up money to spend on expansion and employment. Indirectly, with consumers benefiting from what is effectively a tax cut, companies can also profit from a consequent boost to consumer spending, explain the portfolio manager.
But Sheridan warns that any assessment of earnings should be viewed with an element of caution, and as just one metric to assess the investment potential of a stock. While a company may offer a sustained level of earnings, this may already be reflected in its price, with the risk being that an investor may be forced to pay a premium for the stock.
Companies in the portfolio are likely to be durable, well-established names with experience of trading through varied economic and business conditions. This should help to make the fund’s earnings profile more robust. RELX, Bayer and ASM International are a few examples from the current portfolio.