Last updated: 07:06 / Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Outlook AXA IM

“The Fundamental Background Growth Story Is Still There for EM And These Countries Will Continue to Develop”

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“The Fundamental Background Growth Story Is Still There for EM And These Countries Will Continue to Develop”
  • "EM growth will pick up, and will continue to be stronger than DM"
  • "The strong names will become stronger and therefore more expensive – and weaker companies will continue to struggle"
  • Looking ahead to 2016, there will be three main triggers that could create buying opportunities: the Fed will have to provide some clarity on the rate cycle; China; and commodity prices wich need to stabilise
  • "I still think that India is a strong growth story". “I like Russian and selective Brazilian credits for completely different reasons"

Sailesh Lad, Senior Portfolio Manager within AXA Investment Managers' (AXA IM) global emerging markets fixed income team and Olga Fedotova, Head of Emerging Market Credit at AXA IM, discuss their outlook for emerging markets, including the main triggers that could create buying opportunities next year and where the opportunities currently lie for the asset class.

On the future for emerging markets (EMs) Sailesh Lad comments: “While emerging market growth is unquestionably slowing, EMs are still growing at a faster pace than developed markets (DMs). Arguably investors had come to expect growth closer to 5% over the past 20 years, and will in time acclimatise to levels of 3-4% growth. So I think that EM growth will pick up, and will continue to be stronger than DM. Similarly, EM currencies have depreciated a lot in the past year or two, but having appreciated too quickly in the past, we may now see appreciation reoccurring albeit at a slower pace. The fundamental background growth story is still there for EM, and these countries will continue to develop.

“People tend to talk about EMs as a group of very basic countries with little infrastructure, but what is now classed as emerging markets are actually very developed economies in absolute terms, that happen to retain the label.”

Olga Fedotova added: “We are also seeing broad investors become more familiar with EM corporate names now. Investors have moved from a top-down approach to more bottom-up, fundamental analysis, and will increasingly distinguish strong companies that perform well, even in the current currency climate. Ultimately, the strong names will become stronger and therefore more expensive – and weaker companies will continue to struggle.”

Looking ahead to 2016, Saliesh Lad highlighted: “Current market conditions suggest there will be three main triggers that could create buying opportunities and lure investors back to the EM market next year. This includes:

  1. The Federal Reserve will have to provide some clarity on the rate cycle. We think this will start gradually, but with cash levels at four-year highs, ultimately the cycle just needs to start. Investors can identify potential opportunities, but lack the conviction to invest right now because of the persistent uncertainty for interest rates.
  2. China will remain a burning issue, but investors should start to acclimatise to the reality of the economy making a structural shift from an industrial economy to a consumer led one and growth being closer to 6% than 7%. Clarity from China’s authorities on future central bank policy will also be welcomed by investors.
  3. Commodity prices need to stabilise. Ideally we would like to see 3-6 months of stability, particularly in oil and metals, to settle the dynamics for countries with high export dependencies.”

Looking to the more immediate future, Sailesh Lad continues to see solid opportunities in EMs: “While it might be quite a consensus view, I still think that India is a strong growth story. The closed nature of its economy means it is relatively insulated from China’s growth worries. It’s an EM that is still growing, and this insulation provides safe-haven qualities while also promising the potential of attractive returns.”

Olga Fedotova added: “I like Russian and selective Brazilian credits for completely different reasons. The Russian credit story is very robust over a longer time horizon, and technical conditions for Russian corporates remain supportive because of local investors. Russian corporates are also low leveraged, natural exporters, and can comfortably serve their debt, thanks in part to sharp rouble depreciation, prudent cost cutting and more conservative financial policies. Some Brazilian companies are also attractive, but you have to be very careful, as they have underperformed DM and EM alike at the overall level. Stronger names, that are not exposed to oil and gas, with relatively low debt levels and a high proportion of export revenues (for example food, paper and pulp producers) will benefit from cheaper valuations as investor sentiment towards EM is improving.”

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